Unemployment rate increases compared to previous month

Thursday, October 28th 2004, 2:33 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma's unemployment rate increased slightly to 4.2 percent last month, but the rate was still significantly lower than it was a year ago, state officials said Thursday.

``Although there are certainly pockets of weakness, both in terms of geography and industry, the overall employment picture in September is one of gradual growth and recovery,'' state economist Lynn Gray said.

In August, the rate stood at 3.8 percent and in September of 2003, it was at 5.6 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate for September was 5.1 percent.

For the 12 months ending in September, unemployment decreased by nearly 25 percent, or 23,000 people, from the 94,000 who were out of work in September 2003.

Oklahoma saw gains last month in educational, governmental and health services jobs as students returned to school.

Seasonal hiring in leisure and hospitality services dropped with the end of summer break.

In September, total nonfarm employment in the Oklahoma City area gained 7,100 jobs, to reach a total of 541,900. That's an addition of 9,300 jobs since September 2003.

The Tulsa area continued its recovery in September, gaining 1,400 jobs for the month. Government was the largest contributor to the monthly gain as seasonal factors came into play.

Lawton picked up 200 jobs in September to reach 38,400, compared to 38,700 jobs in September 2003.

Enid had 22,400 jobs last month, 400 less than for the same period a year ago.

The Oklahoma City employment picture will be affected early next year, when a General Motors plant will be temporarily idle because of an expected oversupply of sport utility vehicles.

The temporary shutdown will involve 2,427 hourly workers at the plant for the weeks of Jan. 3 and 10. The Oklahoma plant will reopen with a slower line speed and undetermined long-term cuts.