Oklahoma jobless rate continues slow upward creep
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 3:01 AM
Oklahoma's jobless rate rose for the fourth straight month, climbing to 5.3 percent in October, according to information released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
October's rate increased from 5.2 percent in September. A year ago at the same time, the state's rate was 6.3 percent.
"This isn't a huge move ... so it doesn't necessarily give me any kind of heartburn about what is going on," said Steve Agee, dean of Oklahoma City University's Meinders School of Business. "I think most of that is attributed to the increase in the labor force, and so that is a good sign."
Oklahoma is doing well relative to the rest of the nation, and people are coming back into the labor force looking for work, Agee said.
"As those participants come back into the labor force, we've got to absorb those. We're just simply not absorbing those as fast as they are coming back into the labor force, and that's the reason for the very minor uptick," Agee said.
According to a smaller household survey, the state's labor force expanded by 8,470 to total 1,821,960. The number of unemployed grew by 1,700 to total 96,080.
The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed people by the size of the labor force.
Agee noted that much uncertainty still exists about the upcoming fiscal cliff. Employers will be more willing to hire once the rules have been established for taxes and spending, he said.
"I think everyone will adjust to those new rules and we'll see an increase not only in labor force participation, but absorbing those people into the workplace, which is going to be a good thing. I'm optimistic about the future. I think if they can resolve the fiscal cliff issue and establish ground rules for business going forward into 2013, it will be a very positive thing for the economy," Agee said.
Also, according to the smaller household survey, total employment, which includes self-employed and farm jobs, rose by 6,760.
A larger establishment survey shows that Oklahoma's nonfarm employment grew by 1,300 over the month to total 1,603,800. That figure represented 42,200 more jobs from the same time a year ago.
"Even though there is a good-sized difference between the employment changes in the household survey and establishment survey this month, over time the two employment series tend to move together," said Lynn Gray, the OESC's chief economist in emailed comments.
The largest monthly nonfarm job gains were recorded in professional and business services, which added 2,300 jobs, and leisure and hospitality, which added 2,200 jobs, according to the OESC.
"Perhaps the most significant development is the continued recent decline in mining employment. The industry lost a net of 1,800 jobs in October and is now down 3,700 jobs since its recent high back in May," said Gray. "The annual rate of growth which was at 17 percent back in February 2012 now stands at 2.7 percent.
"National statistics from BLS show that in recent months the number of new hires and openings are down for the industry. Openings in September were only 14,000 compared with 32,000 a year earlier," Gray added.
Gray indicated also that the data may contain an error in the state government estimate. "A major employer within the state government is converting to a new HR/payroll system and submitted what almost certainly has to be an erroneous report. We are checking with them," he said.
Nationwide, 42 states and the District of Columbia registered unemployment rate decreases from the same time a year earlier, while eight states posted increases.
The U.S. rate was 7.9 percent for the month.
Nevada continued to record the highest unemployment rate, at 11.5 percent in October, while North Dakota again had the lowest rate at 3.1 percent.
Job gains and losses among Oklahoma's 11 super sectors in October
(Data based on seasonally adjusted data from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission)
Mining and logging -1,800
Trade, transportation and utilities +1,000
Financial activities -100
Professional and business services +2,300
Educational and health services -900
Leisure and hospitality +2,200
Other services -1,300
Performance of state's super sectors over the year:
Mining and logging +1,400
Trade, transportation and utilities +11,800
Financial activities +2,000
Professional and business services +5,200
Educational and health services -700
Leisure and hospitality +5,200
Other services +1,000
Original Print Headline: Oklahoma jobless rate continues creep up
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466