Oklahoma's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady in January at 5.1 percent, compared to 7.9 percent nationally, according to jobs data released Monday.
However, job growth in the state shrank slightly for the month.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment for the state fell slightly in January, shedding 760 unemployed Oklahomans, a 0.8 percent decrease for the month, according to data released Monday by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
For the year, seasonally adjusted unemployment fell by 5,290 or 5.4 percent.
“The fact that unemployment held relatively steady could show that a lot of discouraged workers who were not out there applying for work are back in the job market,” said John Carpenter, state Employment Security Commission spokesman.
Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment in Oklahoma shrank by 3,700 jobs in January, a 0.2 percent decrease.
That marks the first decline in nonfarm employment in the state since August 2011, said Lynn Gray, chief economist for the Employment Security Commission.
Although part of the decline could be attributed to a recent adjustment in 2012 jobs data, the numbers also suggest that job growth fueled by the economic recovery in the state is slowing slightly, Gray said.
“Typically in a recovery, you will see the strongest growth in the first year-and-a-half, and then that will slow down and return to (the) long-term average,” he said.
For the year, nonfarm employment for the state grew by 17,500 jobs, or 1.1 percent.
Leading the way
The leisure and hospitality and construction industries led the way in job growth in the state for January, adding 1,500 jobs for leisure and hospitality and 1,400 jobs for construction.
The number of government jobs shrank the most in Oklahoma for January, shedding 2,500 positions.