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Unemployment rate lowest in 18 years

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma's unemployment rate in July
totaled 3.4 percent, the lowest level for the state since September

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said 56,500 people
were unemployed in July, compared with 50,400 unemployed in
September 1981. The rate is the same, however, because the number
of people in the work force now is greater than 18 years ago.

"I'm not surprised that we are finding unemployment rates
lower," said Robert C. "Bob" Dauffenbach, director of the Price
Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of

"And I'm not overly concerned with that because I think we
still have some room to grow in that area."

The preliminary July figures are a decline of three-tenths of a
percent from the revised June estimate of 3.7 percent.

Alfalfa County continued to be the county with the lowest
unemployment rate with 0.9 percent. It has had the lowest rate of
the state's 77 counties since April 1997.

Latimer County has the highest rate at 8.5 percent. While it has
had the highest rate since July 1998, the unemployment level has
dropped by almost 50 percent.

The OESC said total nonfarm employment in Oklahoma dropped 1
percent in July, a loss of about 15,400 jobs.

The OESC said 32,200 jobs have been created since this time last

The goods-producing industries decreased 0.3 percent, or 900
jobs, while the service-producing industries declined 1.2 percent,
or 14,500 jobs.

The OESC said construction dropped off slightly while retaining
a positive over-the-year growth of 2.9 percent. Manufacturing
declined for the month, mostly in durable goods, which lost 500

Trade dropped 0.8 percent for the month, with declines in the
wholesale and retail trade sectors. Retail trade saw a decline of
1,300 jobs in eating and drinking establishments, which usually
happens in the summer.

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