Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Unemployment Rate for Oklahoma Down for Month to 6.8%

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Unemployment Rate for Oklahoma Down for Month to 6.8%

Article excerpt

Oklahoma's unemployment rate dipped in May to 6.8 percent, compared to 7.0 percent in April and a year ago, the state Employment Security Commission reported Monday.

"That's still high for Oklahoma, said W.J. Bowman, chief of research and statistics for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

"Our average unemployment rate is around 4.5 to 5 percent. And of course, during 1981, the height of the oil boom, our unemployment rate was 3.6 percent - the lowest in the nation," said Bowman.

The national unemployment rate was 7 percent in May, Bowman said. There were 106.8 million Americans working and 8 million seeking jobs in May.

In Oklahoma, there were 14,400 more people on the job as of May 31, compared to April 30. Statewide employment was 1.45 million in May, compared to 1.44 million in April.

That caused the downward blip on the state's jobless rate chart, Bowman said.

The state's jobless ranks declined to 105,600 in May. In April, 109,000 Oklahomans were unemployed.

"The shaky world oil prices caused our domestic oil and gas industry to lose 800 jobs from April to May and 1,700 jobs for the year so far," Bowman said.

"After a one-month turn-around in the oil and gas industry's employment, I'm afraid we're going to see a downward trend there now for some months to come," Bowman said.

The brighter May employment picture is due in part to a gain of 2,700 jobs in the wholesale and retail trades from April to May, Bowman said.

"Most of this is coming from eating and drinking establishments. Many of these are low-wage jobs," Bowman said.

The construction industry reported a seasonal increase of 1,200 jobs from April to May - the second largest gain by any industry monitored by the Employment Security Commission.

But that seasonal gain is not expected to help the construction industry overcome its reduction of 4,100 jobs since last May, Bowman said.

A saturated market for office space and apartments means the construction industry is not likely to make any permanent gains in employment any time soon, the state's employment research director said. …

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