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June 16--Texas posted another month of strong job growth in May, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday, led by oil and gas jobs that are rushing back as producers send rigs back to work.

The state added 14,800 positions last month, bringing the annual growth rate to 2.2 percent -- a significant improvement from the 1.8 percent rate at which the state was growing at the end of 2016. Unemployment fell slightly to 4.4 percent, coming close to the national rate of 4.1 percent.

Oil and gas led job growth with 6,600 new jobs, followed by construction and financial activities, amid fears that labor shortages could curtail the recovery of drilling in the red-hot Permian Basin.

Houston fared well too, bringing its annual job growth rate up to 1.5 percent. Hospitality and leisure was the biggest driver, delivering the largest one-month jump on record for May. Houston's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 5.1 percent, which is only slightly above where it was at this time last year and down from its oil bust high of 5.9 percent in February.

The oil and gas rally has spurred activity across industrial sectors, with manufacturing and construction also adding positions -- a turnaround from a nearly two year period of contraction in the goods-producing part of the economy as service industries like hospitals and entertainment struggled to make up the difference.

Manufacturing in Houston is now up 3.9 percent over the year, particularly in fabricated metals, after taking a dive in 2015. That's especially positive news, since those jobs tend to be better paid than the jobs in healthcare and hospitality that had accounted for most of Houston's growth over that period.

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