The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 20, 2012

Oklahoma unemployment rate drops to 5.4 percent

From The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s unemployment fell to 5.4 percent last month, thanks in part to job gains in professional and business services, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported Friday.

The rate was an improvement from February’s jobless rate of 6.0 percent in Oklahoma, and far better than the national jobless rate in March of 8.2 percent. It also was an improvement from March 2011, when the state unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.

The number of non-farm jobs rose by 2,300 from February to March, with the professional and business services sector — which includes scientific and technical services, administrative jobs and management — adding 3,200 jobs. The greatest job loss was in construction, which had 2,000 fewer employees in March than in February, according to the commission.

The figures show that Oklahoma’s total labor force was 1.78 million people in March, with 1.69 million employed and 96,750 filing for unemployment benefits.

While the total labor force fell by 400,000 from February to March, the number filing for unemployment dropped by more than 10,000 from 106,820, according to the OESC.

Job gains also were reported in the mining and logging, manufacturing, transportation and utilities industries.

Fewer jobs were available in industries including the information, financial services, educational and health services, and leisure and hospitality, which includes entertainment, recreation, and hotels and motels.