Oklahoma jobless numbers improve

The state's nonfarm employment jobs have grown by 2.4 percent over the past year.
by Paula Burkes Published: April 21, 2012

Oklahoma's unemployment rate fell 0.6 percent in March and the state is continuing its several months' trend of adding jobs.

Oklahoma's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month was 5.4 percent, down from 6 percent in February and 5.9 percent a year ago, according to a report released Friday by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

Simultaneously, Oklahoma added 2,300 in nonfarm jobs, and 37,600 since March 2011.

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate in March fell to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent in February, but employers added only 120,000 jobs — half the pace of the previous three months, the federal labor department reported Friday. Though 30 states reported lower monthly unemployment rates (eight had increases), only 28 other states saw job gains.

“Ours is a strong report,” commission economist Lynn Gray said. “Based on surveys of households and at business establishments, we're now seeing consistent employment growth, along with measurable improvement in the number of unemployed,” Gray said.

Robert Dauffenbach, director of the Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma, is most impressed with the year-over-year 2.4 percent gain in nonfarm jobs.

“Population grows at about 1 percent, so any time you grow jobs by above 2 percent, you're doing good,” Dauffenbach said.

Still, Dauffenbach said nonfarm employment in March is 16,000 fewer than the state's peak employment — 1.58 million, compared with 1.596 million in May 2008.

The biggest job declines were reported in Ohio, which lost 9,500 jobs, and New Jersey, which lost 8,600 positions.

CONTRIBUTING: The Associated Press

by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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