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Number of jobless falls again in state
[April 22, 2008]

Number of jobless falls again in state

(Daily Oklahoman, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Apr. 22--Oklahoma's unemployment rate dropped for the second consecutive month, the latest figures from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission show.

The state's nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 3.2 percent in March from 3.5 percent in February, the OESC said. The rate was noticeably down from 4.3 percent a year ago.

11,200 more jobs

Oklahoma also rated favorably last month compared to the entire country. The U.S. jobless rate in March rose to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent in February.

The state added 11,200 jobs last month, with more than half from the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas, the OESC reported. Statewide employment grew in all industries except manufacturing, which reported the loss of 100 jobs.

Total nonfarm employment in the Oklahoma City metro area expanded by 3,600 jobs in March, with 90 percent of that growth coming from the services providing industries, the OESC said.

There were 2,700 more jobs than last year at the same time.

An increase of 900 jobs in trade, transportation and utilities sector for the month was the top growth sector, said OESC economist Lynn Gray. And the bump up in jobs, though seasonally expected, "Is slightly above past years," he said. "Only two years since 1990 have had higher growth" in that sector in the same time period, Gray said.

Tulsa jobs increase, too

The leisure and hospitality segment, which includes restaurants and drinking establishments, also did well in March with the addition of 800 jobs. Educational and health services added 700 jobs in March and 2,700 positions year over year, the OESC report said.

The Tulsa metropolitan area added 2,800 jobs during March. The most impressive gains came from 900 new jobs in the trade, transportation & utilities sector, primarily from gains in retail trade.

Natural resources and mining added 500 jobs and construction gained 400 positions.

Gray said scrutiny of the March data on Oklahoma offered some surprises, especially compared to other parts of the country.

No decline here

A comparison with 11 other states showed that many -- including California, Florida, Michigan and Ohio -- are shedding jobs and posting declining payrolls. "Oklahoma is still growing with a 1 percent year-over-year growth," he said. "That still puts us ahead of most states."

So far, "We're not seeing the decline in labor markets here," Gray said, and though a full-blown recession will affect the state "My guess it won't be as bad here."

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