AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Recent job numbers show the Texas unemployment rate has remained virtually flat so far this year, according to figures released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The unemployment rate for July shows jobless levels were unchanged for the third consecutive month at 6.5 percent. In the prior three months February to April the unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent, and in January was 6.3 percent.

Nationally, unemployment for July was 7.4 percent, a slight drop from the 7.6 percent recorded the prior month.

State officials said the Texas economy added 19,900 nonfarming jobs in July, for a total of 293,000 positions added since July 2012.

Midland had the state's lowest unemployment rate in July at 3.5 percent. The city was followed by Odessa at 4.2 percent and Amarillo at 5.1 percent.

The highest rate in Texas was in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area at 11.3 percent, followed by Brownsville-Harlingen at 10.5 percent and Beaumont-Port Arthur at 10.2.

Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said Texas has maintained a positive growth rate for 39 straight months. The financial services field created the most jobs in July of any other sector with 9,000 new positions, he said.

Other sectors that tallied strong job growth were mining and logging, information services, trade, transportation and utilities.

"Our 3.1 percent annual growth rate compares favorably to 2.1 percent for the private sector nationally," commissioner Hope Andrade said.