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Good Unemployment Numbers For OKC Present Other Challenges

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

The new numbers are in for Oklahoma City unemployment and they look good.

Once again, OKC ranks as the top metro with the lowest unemployment rate in the country. So how does that affect the numerous staffing agencies across the city trying to fill positions?

Many metro temp agencies say they are steady looking for skilled people in need of work, and the low unemployment rate makes it a challenge.

"If you're looking for work right now, it's a good time to look for work," said Alison Broxterman co-owner of TRC Staffing Services in Oklahoma City.

Broxterman says she sometimes sees between 10 and 20 job seekers a week, but lately, that number's been dwindling.

"With the low unemployment, it's been difficult with having so many openings and not enough people who are qualified for them," said Broxterman, who's worked as a staffer for 15 years.

It's the same story for staffers at American StaffCorp near Bricktown and headquartered in Tulsa.

"The skilled laborers are very difficult. Like right now we have a job order for 22 CNC machinists and just I can't find one that's not working because they pay so well and people are happy where they are," said Mark Morrison, branch manager for American StaffCorp.

One machinist, who's been out of work for two months, says the job hunt is still a struggle.

"It's been hard. It's been very difficult, a lot of people look at your age and stuff like that and they don't look at your experience," said Rusty Gray, who's worked in the oilfields all his life and commutes from Broken Arrow to find work.

Oklahoma City boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the nation for a major metropolitan area. The U.S. Department of Labor lists the rate at 4.8 percent in July, compared to 7.4 percent for the U.S. Staffing agencies say more companies want to hire workers fast, so when they run across a qualified applicant, the race is on.

"Well, it almost gets into a bidding war if we have them interview with more than one place," said Broxterman. "So we're talking about shelf life of candidates becoming very short."

But not everyone believes the low unemployment hype.

"If that's the truth then maybe somebody needs to recalculate their numbers," Gray said. "Because there's a lot of people on the side of the road hungry."

Some staffing agencies say it has been so difficult finding enough qualified job seekers locally, they're seeking applicants from out of the state.

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