The number of Oklahomans with jobs set a record in May at 1.7 million as the state's unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent, according to figures released Friday.
The jobless rate declined 0.2 percentage points from the 5 percent rate of April, and is down 1.1 percentage points in the past year, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported.
“That's pretty dadgum strong in this day and age,” University of Oklahoma economist Robert Dauffenbach said.
The national unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to 8.2 percent in May.
Unemployment rates rose in more than a third of U.S. states in May, the most in nine months. It was the latest evidence that the job market is weakening nationwide.
The U.S. Labor Department said that unemployment rates rose in 18 states, were unchanged in 18 and fell in only 14, including Oklahoma. In April, rates fell in 37 states.
Oklahoma's jobless rate is at it lowest level since 2008, said John Carpenter, spokesman for Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
“We continue to move forward and see improvement in the jobs situation,” Carpenter said.
However, Oklahoma's seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment saw a loss of 1,900 jobs. Carpenter said the seasonal adjustments accounted for the loss, as the raw number of jobs actually increased by more than 5,000.
“We basically ended up 1,900 jobs less than model would have predicted,” he said. “That's not necessarily a bad thing.”
In May, Oklahoma added jobs in only four of its 11 major sectors, led by a 1,300-job gain in mining and logging. That sector, which includes the energy business, has grown 14.3 percent in the past year, the commission's figures show.
Professional and business services had the biggest decline over the month, shedding 2,100 jobs.
Dauffenbach said the model used to calculate the state's unemployment rate “is showing there's a good deal of vibrancy here.”
However, Dauffenbach said global financial and banking concerns, particularly in Europe, “continue to drain the vitality out of the international economy.” Those weaknesses could eventually spill over to the domestic and local jobs market, he said.