OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma's unemployment rate dropped slightly last month but remained higher than a year ago, according to preliminary figures by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
The state's seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.4 percent was down from 5.8 percent recorded in June, but was a full percentage point higher than the rate of a year ago, according to the figures released Thursday.
Nationally, the July unemployment rate was 6.3 percent, down from 6.5 percent in June but up from 5.9 percent a year earlier.
All four of the state's metropolitan areas showed improvement over June, although Tulsa's unemployment rate of 6.4 percent continued to exceed the overall state rate. Tulsa's rate was down from the 6.7 percent of the previous month, but is substantially higher than the 4.7 percent rate of a year ago.
The Tulsa area lost almost 12,000 jobs from June 2002 to June 2003, according to the commission. The city also is facing the loss of more high-paying jobs as Citgo Petroleum Corp., which employs more than 950 people in Tulsa, considers moving its U.S. headquarters from the city.
AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, has maintenance bases in Tulsa, Kansas City, Mo., and Fort Worth, Texas, and is considering closing one of them.
The Tulsa center employs 8,300 employees. Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune has said the center contributes another 14,579 jobs to the area.
In Oklahoma City, the July unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent from 5.5 percent in June as about 2,000 workers returned to their jobs at the General Motors plant, which had been idled as the result of damage from a tornado. In July 2002 the city's unemployment rate was 4 percent.
Lawton posted an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in July, down from 3.6 percent in June. Last July, Lawton's jobless rate was 3.2 percent. Enid's unemployment rate of 2.8 percent was down from June's rate of 3.1 percent. That matched the rate of last July.
The state's July figures don't include planned layoffs of more than 600 workers at the Wrangler plant in Seminole. That's about 7 percent of the work force in Seminole County, which already has one of the state's highest unemployment rates among counties at 10.8 percent.