Oklahoma's unemployment rate rose in October to 5.3 percent even as the number of jobs increased, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said Tuesday.
The labor force grew by 8,470 people as the number of unemployed rose by 1,700 people, the commission said. That caused the unemployment rate to rise slightly, up from 5.2 percent in September.
“This is almost certainly people coming back into the labor market because they've heard the economy is improving,” said Lynn Gray, chief economist for the Employment Security Commission.
Oklahoma was among seven states that had higher unemployment rates in October, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Yet Oklahoma's jobless rate was a full percentage point higher, at 6.3 percent, in October 2011.
The national unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in October. North Dakota, which has seen rapid job growth from oil and gas drilling, had the country's lowest jobless rate at 3.1 percent. Nevada had the highest rate at 11.5 percent.
Oklahoma added 1,300 jobs in October. Much of those gains were in trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; and the leisure and hospitality sectors.