The Waco area’s jobless rate dropped to a 17-year low in October, and the state enjoyed a record-setting fall in unemployment, according to a report released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Unemployment in the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes McLennan and Falls counties, hit 3.3 percent last month, down from 3.8 percent in September and 4.0 percent in October of last year.

Still, a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was not as positive, showing the number of people with jobs in Falls and McLennan counties actually dropped by an estimated 500 people during the past year.

The lower jobless rate came about because the civilian labor force, which reflects the number of people with and without jobs, dropped by about 1,800 people from October last year to this year.

Fewer people were working, but fewer were looking, according to the statistics bureau, which showed that job losses were heaviest in professional and business services, 400; leisure and hospitality, 300; trade, transportation and utiliites, 200; and education and health services, 100.

The government category saw an increase of an estimated 400 jobs, while other services showed a jump of 100 positions. No significant changes were reported in the areas of construction, manufacturing, information or financial activities.

Kris Collins, senior vice president for economic development at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, took the positive view, noting the number of unemployed in the Waco MSA dropped by 600 between September and October, according to non-seasonally adjusted figures.

“The report shows our local economy remains strong,” Collins said.

The chamber has repeatedly claimed that a falling jobless rate does not always represent good news, since the availability of a workforce plays a role when industrial prospects consider a community.

“But we have such strong assets in education that I believe prospects can attract talent even with our low unemployment rate,” Collins said.

In a report she prepared for the chamber’s newsletter, Collins said Empereon Marketing will start hiring next month to fill a 68,000-square-foot customer support center in Lacy Lakeview. It hopes to fill 500 positions immediately and 750 within two years.

Meanwhile, the state of Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in October, setting a record for the lowest jobless rate in four decades, according to a press release from the Texas Workforce Commission.

“By adding an impressive 71,500 jobs over the past month and 316,100 jobs over the year, Texas employers have once again demonstrated their unmatched innovation and ability to achieve success in our country’s premier place to do business,” workforce commission Chairman Andres Alcantar wrote in the press release. “This economy provides valuable opportunities for the highly skilled Texas workforce also to achieve success.”

An estimated 12.9 million Texans had jobs in October, up from 12.7 million in October of last year, leading to the record-low jobless rate.

Nationally, unemployment fell to 3.9 percent in October, down from 4.7 percent the same month last year, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

In Texas, the Midland and Amarillo MSAs recorded the month’s lowest jobless rates of 2.4 percent, followed by Bryan-College Station at 2.5 percent, and the Austin-Round Rock and Lubbock MSAs at 2.6 percent.

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