The Oklahoma economy added 35,200 jobs in 2012, a 2.2 percent gain over the previous year, according to numbers released Friday by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
Oklahoma's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December dipped 1.2 percentage points from 6.3 percent a year ago.
The numbers show a significant improvement in job growth in the state — especially noteworthy considering continued sluggish jobs growth nationally, said John Carpenter, spokesman for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
“It's a significant improvement when you have unemployment down more than 19,000 people over the year when, nationally, we are dealing with a lot of long-term unemployment,” Carpenter said.
The seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 5.1 percent for December also was significantly lower than the national rate of 7.8 percent, he said.
Oklahoma ranked sixth in the nation for decreasing its unemployment rate in 2012. The numbers are especially good because the state economy also added a significant number of jobs for the year, said Deidre Myers, director of research, economic analysis and policy services for the Oklahoma Commerce Department.
“In the state of Oklahoma in 2012, not only did we grow our workforce, but we created enough jobs that our unemployment rate went down by 17.2 percent,” Myers said.
However, there is reason for concern that the contentious political climate in Washington, D.C., and economic uncertainty could slow job growth in the year ahead, she said.
“We saw a little bit of slowing in job growth in the past quarter,” Myers said. “There was a little bit of uncertainty for businesses because of the fiscal cliff, sequestration and the upcoming debt ceiling debates. For Oklahoma to continue to grow, we really need certainty in our markets.”