By Scott Nishimura

Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston continue to lead the nation's largest metro areas in new jobs and the rate of job growth compared with a year earlier, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday.

Total nonfarm employment in the 12-county North Texas area stood at 2,929,700 in April, up 83,100 over April 2010, said the bureau's regional commissioner, Stanley Suchman.

Job growth was up 2.9 percent, compared with 1.1 percent for the U.S.

D-FW and Houston also led the nation's largest metro areas in both categories in March.

North Texas has long been a leader in both job and population growth, and the trend has continued even in the economic downturn. That has helped keep unemployment below national and state averages.

In April, the Fort Worth-Arlington jobless rate dropped to 7.6 percent from 8 percent in March and also a year ago. U.S. unemployment stands at 9 percent.

Employment grew faster in Dallas-Plano-Irving in April, rising 62,900 jobs, or 3.1 percent. Fort Worth-Arlington added 20,200 jobs, up 2.4 percent.

Professional and business services, which were particularly strong in Dallas-Plano-Irving, added 24,700 jobs, up 5.9 percent. That was nearly double the U.S. increase of 3.2 percent.

Education and health services, including private but not public schools, added 19,600 jobs. Fort Worth-Arlington added 6.4 percent more positions in that category, and Dallas-Plano-Irving added 5.2 percent. The U.S. gain was 2.2 percent.

Trade, transportation and utilities in North Texas added 12,600 jobs, up 2.2 percent, compared with 1.2 percent for the U.S. Mining, logging and construction added 10,300 jobs, up 6.6 percent.

Financial activities added 9,600 jobs, up 4.2 percent, compared with a 0.4 percent loss nationally; leisure and hospitality, 7,500, up 2.7 percent, compared with 1.8 percent for the U.S.; and government, 4,000, up 1 percent, compared with a 1.7 percent U.S. drop. Government includes public schools.

Information lost 5,400 jobs, down 6.8 percent, compared with a U.S. loss of 1.2 percent. Fort Worth-Arlington was down 10.8 percent, and Dallas-Plano-Irving, 5.9 percent.