City records lowest jobless rate among large U.S. cities

Thursday, October 4, 2012

by Don Mecoy

The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City’s jobless rate, already the nation’s lowest among large cities, fell 0.2 percentage points in August to 4.6 percent.  

“There was a decline in the number of unemployed, and an increase in the number of employed,” said Lynn Gray, chief economist for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. “That’s what you’re wanting to see — the unemployment rate declining for the right reason.”   

While jobless rates declined in nearly 90 percent of large U.S. metro areas, the decline in many instances reflected more people who gave up looking for work.  

The Oklahoma City metro area added 6,900 jobs in August, which Gray said might be the top jobs-producing August in more than two decades.  

“That’s a strong gain,” he said.   

The best-producing sector in the metro was service industries such as retail and professional business services. But mining, which includes energy, registered a small decline for the third straight month.   

“There are a few clouds on the horizon,” Gray said. “These are not huge declines, but that had been growing and it’s starting to recede a little bit.”   

Declining state tax revenue from the energy industry, along with continuing fiscal unrest in Europe and a slowing Chinese economy, could have an impact on the state’s employment, he said.   

“It’s too early and the changes are too slight to get very worried, but certainly we’re seeing some slowing,” he said.   

Tulsa’s numbers
Tulsa’s unemployment rate of 5.4 percent declined 0.1 percentage point.   

Tulsa’s job growth of 0.5 percent was less than half of Oklahoma City’s 1.2 percent gain. The Tulsa area added 2,100 jobs in August.  

Lawton’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, down from 6.6 percent in July.

By the numbers

  • Among Oklahoma’s 77 counties, only five recorded higher non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in August than in July.
  • The highest rate, 10.7 percent, was in Le Flore County, followed by 9.1 percent in Sequoyah County and 8.8 percent in Latimer County. All those counties are in far southeast   Oklahoma.
  • The lowest county jobless rates were in Ellis County, 2.1 percent; Dewey County, 2.3 percent; and Beaver County, 2.4 percent.