The Texas economy continues to outpace the nation with modest gains in employment and home sales in July, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Existing home sales in Texas rose 1.5% in July and are 22% higher than a year earlier, the Dallas Fed said. The Federal Housing Finance Agency said the state's housing price index, which includes only purchase mortgages, inched up 0.3% in the second quarter from the first three months of 2011. Prices are down 2% from a year earlier. House prices across the nation dropped 0.6% in the second quarter and remain 5.9% below a year earlier, according to the FHFA. The Dallas Fed said single-family permits in Texas decreased 3.4% and housing starts slid 0.1% in July from the prior month, when starts rose nearly 30%. The Lone Star State added 25,900 jobs in July after tacking on 33,000 in June, although the unemployment rate rose to 8.4% from 8.2%. Still the rate is lower than the 9.1% nationally and the U.S. economy did not add any nonfarm payroll jobs in July, according to the Labor Department. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw