Oklahoma jobless rate rises as hiring slows

Oklahoma's unemployment rate increased in July for the first time in 11 months as job creation slowed.
by Don Mecoy Modified: August 17, 2012 at 8:05 pm •  Published: August 18, 2012

“If it (the unemployment rate) continued to rise like this for a sustained period, that might be much more problematic,” Hepner said. The job growth in the establishment survey demonstrates the underlying strength of the local economy, he said.

Oklahoma's 2.4 percent annual growth in nonfarm employment was the nation's third-best percentage gain, trailing only North Dakota, 6.8 percent, and California, 2.6 percent, for the period of July 2011 to July 2012.

Oklahoma was one of 44 states in which the jobless rate rose in July, the largest number of states to show an increase in more than three years. The U.S. Labor Department said the rates fell in two states and were unchanged in four.

Nationwide, hiring improved in July after three months of tepid job gains. But the national unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent. Monthly job gains have averaged 150,000 this year. That's barely enough to accommodate population growth. As a result, the unemployment rate is the same as when the year began.

Still, 31 states gained jobs in July, while 19 lost them. Unemployment rates can rise in a state even when more jobs are created if more people start looking for work. People who are out of work are counted as unemployed only if they're looking for a job.


The Associated Press

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by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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