For the first time in nearly a year, Oklahoma's jobless rate increased in May.
Oklahoma's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5 percent last month, up 0.1 percentage points.
It was the first time the state reported an increase in its jobless rate since July 2012, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, but the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate still dropped slightly over the same point last year.
Lynn Gray, the commission's chief economist, said the numbers are a sign that Oklahoma's ongoing job growth is slowing.
“It's not a great report,” Gray said, but there are positives. “Over the year, we're still adding jobs. Unemployment is still quite low.”
Oklahoma remains well below the U.S. unemployment rate, which rose 0.1 percentage points in May to 7.6 percent.
Thirty-three states saw unemployment rates fall last month, while Oklahoma was among 17 to post an increase. Eight others were unchanged.
33 states add jobs
Hiring has been steady nationwide, leading to a better job market in many areas of the country. Employers added jobs in 33 states last month. The biggest gains were in Ohio, Texas and Michigan.
Oklahoma's leisure and hospitality sector showed the strongest growth in May, adding 3,400 jobs and accounting for almost all of Oklahoma's job growth. The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 3,000 jobs during the month.
Gray noted Oklahoma's total nonfarm employment added more than 15,000 jobs in May, but the percentage of growth was just shy of 1 percent.
He said that is the first time since June 2011 that the state's nonfarm employment had failed to show growth of at least 1 percent.
Nationally, the economy added 175,000 jobs in May, nearly matching the average monthly gain for the past year. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent, but for a good reason: More Americans were confident they could find work and began searching for a job.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday offered a brighter outlook for the job market and economy. And Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed is likely to slow its bond-buying program later this year and end it next year if the economy continues to strengthen.
Fed officials now expect the unemployment rate to fall as low 7.2 percent this year and between 6.5 percent and 6.8 percent by the end of 2014.
The Associated Press