The employment rate stood at 93.9 percent in November, and 92.8 in December 2011, according to figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission.
There were 99,550 people employed in Smith County last month — 1.02 percent more than the 98,550 local employees in December 2011, Rocky Gill, franchisee of Express Employment Professionals in Tyler, said.
"Permanent hiring around year-end 2012 was at record levels," he said. "We saw a large increase in the number of companies who were hiring employees onto their payrolls."
Gill said there always is a certain amount of activity to get people into a "permanent" job for the first of the year, however, that number was greatly increased in 2012 compared to earlier years.
"We are seeing strong hiring activity in January that is typically not seen until later in the year," he said. "The number of orders for new employees in our office is dramatically up. It appears that whatever hiring stagnation that has existed in recent months has subsided and companies seem to be on the move again."
Texas' employment rate was 94 percent in December, compared to 94.2 percent the month before and 92.9 percent the same time a year ago.
"In December, we saw annual growth in 10 major industries, for an overall annual growth of 2.5 percent in Texas," Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said in a prepared statement. "With those positive strides and 11,800 private sector jobs added in the past month, 2012 was a strong year for Texas and my hope is that the Texas economy will build on that success in 2013."
Employers around the state added 4,100 total nonfarm jobs in December for a total of 260,800 jobs added over the year. In December, Texas employers reported 10,904,000 total nonfarm jobs.
Six out of 11 major industries in the state added jobs in December, led by 13,300 positions gained in professional and business services. It was the largest over-the-month expansion for the industry since January 2012.
Manufacturing added 3,000 jobs between November and December, while mining and lodging grew by 1,600 jobs. Service-providing industries, including education and health services and trade, transportation and utilities, also showed positive growth.
"Private sector employers in Texas added 257,400 jobs since December for an annual growth rate of 2.9 percent," Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Employers Tom Pauken said. "Texas is leading the way in helping to make the United States energy independent. Our robust energy sector not only is creating good paying jobs for many Texans in that industry, but also is spurring job growth in many other industries."
The nation's employment rate was 92.4 percent in December, down slightly from 92.6 percent in November and up from the 91.7 percent rate seen by the country in December 2011.
"I'm glad to see the unemployment rate has dropped by more than a full point over the course of the year," Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton said. "Positive economic growth is good news for the workers of Texas, and TWC is committed to helping those still looking to get back to work."
At 96.9 percent, Midland had the highest employment rate in the state, while at 89.7 percent, the Brownsville-Harlingen and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission areas tied for the lowest employment rate in Texas.