Oklahoma's jobless rate rose in July for the first time in nearly a year, although at 4.9 percent it remains well below the national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.
The state's unemployment rate ticked up 0.2 percentage points, the first time it has risen since August 2011. The number of unemployed Oklahomans increased by 2,860 and employment fell by 1,980, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported.
Even with the July dip, Oklahoma's rate of employment growth over the past year tops 3 percent based on the household survey used to establish the unemployment rate, said Lynn Gray, chief economist for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
“We have not seen an annual rate of employment growth this strong since 1984,” Gray said.
The broader establishment survey of seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment showed Oklahoma added 1,900 jobs in July. Gray said that survey, however, reflects “a pronounced slowing” in job growth over the past three months.
“For the first four months of the year we saw average monthly job growth of over 5,200, but for the past three months our average job growth has been under 650 per month,” Gray said.
Two major employment sectors — mining (which includes energy) and manufacturing — that had been adding jobs robustly earlier this year slowed dramatically in the past three months, Gray said.
Economist Mickey Hepner, dean of the business school at the University of Central Oklahoma, said the numbers generally reflect a stable labor market in the state.