Oklahoma City retained its spot among the nation's largest cities as the metropolitan area with the lowest unemployment rate, a designation it has held for nine straight months.
Oklahoma City's jobless rate was 4.6 percent in December, up slightly from 4.5 percent in November.
However, an Oklahoma employment report shows job losses. Total nonfarm employment dipped to 599,200 compared to November, a loss of 1,600 jobs or 0.3 percent, according a report released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Commission.
Declines in industries
Certain industries showed significant declines. Construction jobs were down 2.9 percent, or 700 jobs, when comparing December to November, according to non-seasonally adjusted numbers. Administrative and support service jobs declined 3.1 percent, a loss of 1,300 jobs in the same time period.
Lynn Gray, chief economist for the Employment Security Commission, said the declines are typical for December and don't indicate a trend.
“I still would look at the long-term trend we've had over the last year of good economic growth,” he said.
November's total Oklahoma City metropolitan area employment was revised from 599,500 to 600,800 — an all-time high for the city and the first time surpassing the 600,000 mark, Gray added.
Unemployment rates rose in 72 of Oklahoma's 77 counties in December, according to state data. Le Flore County posted the highest rate of 8.9 percent, followed by McCurtain County at 8.7 percent and Latimer County at 8.4 percent. Unemployment rates were lowest in Ellis County (2.2 percent), Roger Mills County (2.3 percent) and Beaver County (2.4 percent.)
Mickey Hepner, dean of the University of Central Oklahoma's College of Business, said the state's unemployment, as well as sales tax figures, show growth has been stagnating since the second half of 2012.
The Oklahoma City metro area having the lowest unemployment among the nation's largest cities is a reflection of where we were, but doesn't reflect any recent growth, he said.
“We built a huge lead. It's shrinking a little bit, but it's still a lead,” Hepner said. “Still, I would much rather be here than anywhere else right now.”