Oklahoma's unemployment rate has tracked several percentage points below the national level, according to date from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. Unemployment was at 5.1 percent in Oklahoma for December, compared to 7.8 percent nationally, according to the commission's most recent numbers.
Ron Cobb, president of the Oklahoma City-based Teamsters Local 886, said he has noticed a slight increase in membership over the past year.
“I think it's just due to the economy being better overall,” Cobb said.
The local gained between 60 and 100 members over the past year, he said.
“There is no dramatic jump in our numbers, but it's something that is holding its own,” Cobb said.
Cobb's local has about 2,100 members. Combined with locals in Tulsa and Muskogee, Teamsters has about 4,000 members in the state, Cobb said.
AFL-CIO Oklahoma President Jim Curry said construction jobs from several energy-related projects in the state, including wind farms and the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico, have increased the demand for skilled union jobs in the state.
The AFL-CIO has about 100,000 members in Oklahoma. The union has seen a slight increase in membership in the state over the past year, Curry said, although no firm data was immediately available.
“We are a percentage of employment in the state, and when that goes up, our numbers go up, too,” Curry said.