Oklahoma City’s unemployment rate, already the lowest among the nation’s large cities, fell to 4.8 percent in July.
The metro-area jobless rate declined 0.2 percentage points from 5 percent in June, according to figures issued Wednesday by the U.S. Labor Department. It was the sixth consecutive month the Oklahoma City metro area has had the lowest rate among the largest 49 cities in the country.
Mayor Mick Cornett referred to the city’s robust jobs market in his remarks Tuesday at the Republican National Convention. He said the numbers continue to amaze his peers.
“Other mayors, their jaws drop when I tell them what our unemployment is,” Cornett said. “They think they’re doing pretty well and they’re in the 7 (percent unemployment) range.”
However, Oklahoma City shed 7,800 jobs in July, with most of the losses in the local government sector, according to nonseasonally adjusted data.
“That’s education,” said Lynn Gray, chief economist for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. “You’ve got teachers not working during the summer so they’re coming off of their contract for the academic year. They’ll come back in September.”
Seasonally adjusted statistics account for such cyclical occurrences as education workers who are off during the summer and young people who annually secure employment during winter break.
A year ago, Oklahoma City’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.
Gray said Oklahoma City’s jobless rate typically falls in July as the number of unemployed people has declined in that month for the past 13 years. The same phenomenon occurs in Tulsa, Gray said, where the number of unemployed people has declined from June to July in every year since 1990. Gray said he isn’t sure why that occurs.
Tulsa’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in July, down from 5.6 percent a month earlier. In 2012, Tulsa’s jobless rate has risen 1.6 percentage points.
U.S. rate is 8.6 percent
Unemployment rates were lower in July than a year earlier in 305 of the 372 metropolitan areas tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rates were higher in 52 areas, and unchanged in 15 areas, the agency said. The national unemployment rate in July was 8.6 percent, not seasonally adjusted, down from 9.3 percent a year earlier.
Meanwhile, unemployment rates rose in just six of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
“We are seeing lower unemployment rates across the state,” Gray said. “The economy has improved. We have fewer people that are unemployed versus a year ago.”
The employment trend in the state for the past two years has “been a very positive one,” he said.
The highest unemployment rate among state counties was 10.1 percent in Le Flore County, followed by Sequoyah County, 9.2 percent, and Latimer County, 8.7 percent. All of those counties are in southeastern Oklahoma.
The lowest jobless rates were 2.4 percent in Dewey County, 2.5 percent in Ellis County and 2.6 percent in Beaver and Beckham counties. Those counties are in western Oklahoma.