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In another sign that economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is underway, Austin’s unemployment rate dipped last month as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts increased and businesses continued to reopen.

The area’s jobless rate decreased from 5.6% in February to 5.3% in March, according to new figures from the Texas Workforce Commission.  The data includes Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties.

The Austin region’s March unemployment rate is less than half the pandemic peak of about 12% in April 2020. Since then, local unemployment has hovered in a monthly range of about 5% to 6% —which is roughly double pre-pandemic levels, as the area’s jobless rate was 2.6% in February 2020.

Austin’s unemployment rate remains well below Texas as a whole, which stood at 7.2% in March, down from 7.5% in February. Neither the state figures nor the local figures are adjusted for seasonal factors.

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“Our job market has significantly changed, and thousands of our neighbors are still feeling the pandemic’s effects,” said Tamara Atkinson, CEO at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “However, Austin has one of the hottest job markets in the nation, and more opportunities are here and now.”

Austin industries that showed significant growth from February to March include leisure and hospitality, which added 5,800 jobs; mining, logging and construction, which added 2,800 jobs; transportation and utilities, which added 1,800 jobs, and professional and business services, which added 1,400 jobs.

Other industries posting increases include education and health services, which added 600 jobs, government, which added 200, and information, which added 200. Financial activities employment shed 100 jobs.

“Recovery is underway, and this means more jobs. But the jobs with long-term earning potential require skills,” Atkinson said. “We’re here to train residents for the jobs of today, and Workforce Solutions is the hub for connecting people to these jobs.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.