Oklahoma's unemployment rate dips to 5.2 percent in November
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2012
12/22/12 at 4:35 AM
Oklahoma's unemployment rate reversed direction in November and dipped to 5.2 percent, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
The rate edged down from 5.3 percent in October and returned to where it stood in September, according to seasonally adjusted numbers. The November 2011 rate was 6.3 percent.
The U.S. jobless rate was 7.7 percent last month.
Lynn Gray, the OESC's chief economist, said the monthly report did not signal any significant changes in the state's employment picture, but added that the jobless rate is moving in the right direction.
"I think this is a good report. If someone hasn't made Christmas shopping plans, maybe they will look at this and have a little confidence and go out this weekend and spend a little more," he said.
Gray said he likes the fact that total employment, which includes farmers and self-employed people, has been "increasing nicely" since July and especially in the last two months. It grew from 4,580 in October to total 1,730,200 in November.
However, the unemployment rate has gotten worse since early summer - it was 4.7 percent in June and 4.9 percent in July. But the rate's rise has been coupled with an increase in employment, Gray noted.
In November, the labor force - made up of people working and looking for work - grew while the number of unemployed dropped. Economists view a growing labor force as a sign that people are re-entering the market because they believe their chances of finding work are better.
A larger establishment survey shows that the state's nonfarm employment expanded by 2,700 jobs in November to total more than 1.6 million. Overall, Oklahoma's nonfarm employment has grown by 38,200, or 2.4 percent, from November 2011.
"We haven't seen annual employment growth rates quite as high as we've had in some of the previous recoveries in the last 25 years, but it's still a good growth rate for employment, especially relative to what the rest of the country has experienced," Gray said.
Mining, which includes oil and gas, gained 400 jobs in November. That differs from the previous six months or so when that sector was declining or flat.
"It's not much growth, but it's growth," Gray said.
Manufacturing, which is another important sector with good wages, was up 1,100 jobs from October and has grown by 6,800 jobs, or 5.2 percent, since November 2011.
Oklahoma added jobs in six of the state's 11 super sectors in November, with government logging the highest gain at 1,900 positions, according to the OESC.
Nationwide, Nevada continued to register the highest jobless rate at 10.8 percent in November, while North Dakota again had the lowest rate at 3.1 percent, according to the BLS.
Job gains and losses among Oklahoma's 11 super sectors in November
(Data based on seasonally adjusted data from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission)
Mining and logging +400
Trade, transportation and utilities -1,100
Financial activities unchanged
Professional and business services -500
Educational and health services unchanged
Leisure and hospitality +500
Other services -800
Performance of state's super sectors over the year:
Mining and logging +1,200
Trade, transportation and utilities +10,600
Financial activities +2,500
Professional and business services +5,500
Educational and health services -1,600
Leisure and hospitality +4,800
Other services +400
Original Print Headline: Jobless rate dips to 5.2 percent in state
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466