Tulsa's unemployment rate inches up in October
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2012
11/29/12 at 3:53 AM
After falling for three months, metro Tulsa's jobless rate rose to 5.6 percent in October, according to information released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
Last month's rate compares with 5.3 percent in September and 5.4 percent in August, but was below the 6.9 percent level recorded in October 2011.
A growing labor force - employed people or those looking for work - helped drive the rate higher last month, said Bob Ball, economist for the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
The fact that more people are coming into the Tulsa area labor market is a good sign because it means they are hopeful and expecting to find work, he said.
Ball speculated that seasonal factors could be prompting people to re-enter the labor force as some take temporary jobs.
"It looks like all the state's MSAs showed an increase. The state is still doing well relative to the rest of the country," he said.
Metro Oklahoma City's unemployment rate of 4.9 percent last month was up from 4.6 percent in September but remained the lowest among the nation's 49 metros with a population of 1 million or more, according to the BLS.
The Lawton area saw its jobless rate increase to 7.0 percent from 6.6 percent.
According to a household survey used to calculate the unemployment rate, metro Tulsa's labor force grew by 432 people last month. The number of unemployed grew by 1,355 and total employment, which includes farm jobs and self-employed individuals, dropped by 923.
Lynn Gray, the OESC's chief economist, noted that the drop in total employment differs from Tulsa's usual seasonal pattern. "Typically, Tulsa sees a gain ... whereas this year there was a moderate decline in employment," Gray said. "This decline in employment and the corresponding increase in unemployment caused the unemployment rate to increase more than it usually does in October."
Even so, employment growth compared with a year ago is strong, Gray said.
Nonfarm employment, which is derived from a larger business establishment survey, grew by 2,000 jobs over a month's time to total 422,100 in October. That represented a 7,900 increase in jobs from a year ago, or a 1.9 percent gain.
The monthly change in the establishment survey also was lower than usual but still positive, Gray noted.
"The over-the-month change in retail trade was quite weak for October, but August and September were both stronger than in previous years, so it is possible that employers did some of their seasonal hiring earlier this year," he said. "In addition, the over-the-month change in professional and business services was also low."
Ball pointed to positive growth in the goods- producing sector, which has expanded by 6,100 jobs, or 8.1 percent, from a year ago. Manufacturing, although unchanged over the month, recorded a 3,900 gain from October 2011.
Construction jobs have expanded by 2,100, or 10 percent, over the year. A lot of that growth can be attributed to infrastructure work, but the housing market also has picked up, Ball said.
Housing prices are firming up, Ball said, and the time that homes remain on the market is edging lower, which also indicates that people feel more secure about their jobs, their cash flow and their ability to meet their financial obligations.
Nationwide, October unemployment rates were lower than a year earlier in 329 metros, higher in 37 areas and unchanged in six.
Yuma, Ariz., had the highest rate at 29.8 percent, while Bismarck, N.D., had the lowest at 2.2 percent.
Job gains and losses among Tulsa metro's 11 super sectors over the month in October
(Data based on nonseasonally adjusted data from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission)
Mining and logging -100
Trade, transportation and utilities -300
Financial activities unchanged
Professional and business services -700
Educational and health services unchanged
Leisure and hospitality -100
Other services -100
Performance of metro's super sectors over the year
Mining and logging +100
Trade, transportation and utilities unchanged
Financial activities -100
Professional and business services -700
Educational and health services +1,500
Leisure and hospitality -600
Other services -300
Original Print Headline: Tulsa-area jobless rate inches up in October
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466