State jobless rate slips to 5.1 percent in December
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2013
1/19/13 at 6:55 AM
Oklahoma's jobless rate inched lower to 5.1 percent in December, according to information released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
December's rate was down from 5.2 percent in November. The rate was 6.3 percent in December 2011.
During 2012, Oklahoma's jobless rate fluctuated between 6.1 percent in January and 4.7 percent in June.
Overall, the year was marked by "moderate growth," said Steve Agee, dean of Oklahoma City University's Meinders School of Business.
"We're still continuing to come out of this great contraction and recession. We've seen upward indicators for most of the variables," he said.
Agee expressed optimism that the state can continue to experience moderate growth in 2013. That is likely "if we can maintain the stability in the energy industry and grow in other industries like manufacturing and health care and aerospace," he said.
He noted that banks and businesses have significant amounts cash sitting on the sidelines.
The economy would benefit if the deadlock in Washington over the federal budget and debt ceiling were resolved, Agee said.
"Uncertainty has created instability," he said. "Once that uncertainty starts to go away and the economy continues to expand, then these banks that have this tremendous amount of reserves ... and business that have lot of cash on reserve will begin to invest that in plants and equipment, which will lead to employment."
Agee added that global economic stability also is important.
"I think, overall, we need to just keep an eye on the world economy, too," he said. "We need to make sure there are no major problems going on in Europe, and that China and India are maintaining some type of moderate growth prospects.
"As long as there is no worldwide recession - and I really don't look for that - then the U.S. stands to have a good year in 2013."
A household survey shows that Oklahoma's labor force and the number of unemployed people dipped in December, while total employment rose slightly.
Nonfarm employment, taken from a larger "establishment" survey of businesses, dropped by 2,000 jobs from November to December to 1,600,500. But that total represented an addition of 35,200 jobs compared with December 2011, or a 2.2 percent gain.
Six of Oklahoma's 11 supersectors shed jobs in December, with professional and business services posting the largest drop - a loss of 2,200 jobs, according to the OESC.
Leisure and hospitality reported the largest gain from November with an addition of 2,500 jobs.
Over the year, trade, transportation and utilities logged the largest increase - a gain of 10,900 jobs.
Nationwide, regional and state unemployment rates were little changed for December. The BLS said 42 states and the District of Columbia saw their jobless rates decrease from a year earlier, while six states had increases and two states had no change.
The U.S. jobless rate of 7.8 percent was unchanged from November.
Nevada and Rhode Island recorded the highest unemployment rates, both at 10.2 percent. North Dakota again had the lowest rate at 3.2 percent, according to the BLS.
Job gains and losses among Oklahoma's 11 super sectors in December
(Data based on seasonally adjusted data from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission)
Mining and logging unchanged
Trade, transportation and utilities +300
Financial activities +500
Professional and business services -2,200
Educational and health services +100
Leisure and hospitality +2,500
Other services -600
Performance of state's super sectors over the year:
Mining and logging +500
Trade, transportation and utilities +10,900
Financial activities +3,200
Professional and business services +2,600
Educational and health services -1,500
Leisure and hospitality +8,800
Other services -200
Original Print Headline: State jobless rate slips to 5.1 percent
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466