Tulsa jobless rate up slightly to 5.3 percent
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2013
1/31/13 at 7:03 AM
See how the metro area job picture
looked in December
Metro Tulsa's jobless rate inched up to 5.3 percent in December but was 1 1/2 points lower than a year ago.
Last month's rate compared with 5.1 percent in November and 6.8 percent in December 2011, according to information released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
Metro Tulsa employment has grown for five consecutive months, gaining 12,400 jobs - the best August-December period since 1997, said Lynn Gray, chief economist for the OESC.
"This is a good jobs report for Tulsa," he said in emailed comments.
During 2012, the local jobless rate ranged from 7.0 percent in January to 4.9 percent in April.
The rate is not seasonally adjusted, but if it were it probably would be unchanged for December or would have dropped slightly, just as the statewide number did, said Bob Ball, economist for the Tulsa Regional Chamber.
"We've said we would be right in this range for awhile - 5.1 percent, 5.3 percent or even 5.5 percent," Ball said. "It's looking fine, especially when you take a look at the non-ag employment number. Those are still really good."
Ball predicted that total employment will grow this year in metro Tulsa, but at a slower pace than last year. His forecast calls for 1.8 percent employment growth.
Oklahoma City's jobless rate also rose last month - to 4.6 percent from 4.5 percent in November - but continued to be the lowest among the nation's metros with population of 1 million or more, according to the BLS.
Mark Snead, president and founder of RegionTrack Inc., which offers regional economic forecasting and analysis services, said the uptick in Tulsa's unemployment rate is "just noise." He noted that the rate has been experiencing a steady downward trend, and nonfarm employment growth shows acceleration in hiring.
"It appears that Tulsa is still in a very steady recovery phase," Snead said. "Tulsa's real recovery didn't begin until a year after the rest of the state. I would argue that 2011 and 2012 were the years of the transition, and Tulsa has a considerable amount of momentum going into 2013.
"There is waning oil and gas influence statewide, but we think that Tulsa, in terms of a broad-based recovery in the services sector, is poised to do quite well in 2013. ... Oklahoma City will be more susceptible to energy slowing in 2013 than Tulsa because of that momentum."
Ball said that in Tulsa, manufacturing, construction, and professional and business services should be bright spots this year.
According to a household survey, the area's number of unemployed people rose while its labor force increased slightly, and total employment, which includes self-employed people and farm jobs, edged lower.
Nationwide, unemployment rates were lower in December than a year earlier in 290 of the 372 metros, higher in 68 areas and unchanged in 14 areas.
Yuma Ariz., recorded the highest rate in December at 27.3 percent, while Midland, Texas, had the lowest rate at 3.1 percent, according to the BLS.
Original Print Headline: Tulsa jobless rate up slightly
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466