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Oklahoma City loses unemployment lead

Minneapolis surpassed Oklahoma City in May as the large metropolitan area with the nation's lowest unemployment rate.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: July 3, 2013

For the first time in more than a year, Oklahoma City has lost its position as the largest metropolitan area with the lowest jobless rate.

The Minneapolis metro area dropped below Oklahoma City in May with a 4.7 percent unemployment rate, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.

Oklahoma City had posted the lowest unemployment rate among large cities for 13 consecutive months until May. The city's unemployment rate was 5 percent, up from 4.1 percent in April, but still good for second among large cities.

Unemployment rates rose in two-thirds of U.S. cities in May, as steady hiring encouraged more of those out of work to look for jobs.

Most of the biggest increases were in cities with large universities, where the end of the academic year likely caused many residents to look for summer jobs. The report isn't adjusted for such patterns.

Nationally, the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in May from 7.5 percent, as more people launched job searches. The government doesn't count people as unemployed unless they are looking for work.

Thirty-seven cities had unemployment rates of less than 5 percent. That's up from 29 a year ago.

Oklahoma labor officials say the state's unemployment rate rose in every one of its 77 counties in May.

Figures released on Tuesday show Sequoyah County in southeast Oklahoma had the highest unemployment rate of 9 percent in May, up from 8.2 percent in April. The lowest unemployment rate was in Roger Mills County in western Oklahoma at 2.2 percent, which was an increase from 1.8 percent in April.

Oklahoma County's rate was 5.2 percent in May, up nearly a full percentage point from April's 4.3 percent.

CONTRIBUTING: The Associated Press