Oklahoma jobless rate hits lowest level in four years

Friday, December 23rd 2005, 12:03 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma's unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent last month, its lowest level in four years, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said.

The numbers don't reflect the impact of General Motors' plans to close its Oklahoma City plant in February, resulting in the direct loss of 2,200 employees. The state has estimated the ripple effect of those layoffs could result in a total job loss of 13,400 people.

Retail employment showed healthy growth over the last half of this year, but holiday hiring was "a little soft compared to recent years," the commission said in its monthly employment report, released Thursday.

"The state's economy and labor markets are enjoying their best conditions in years," Lynn Gray, the commission's chief economist, said in the report. "While not at the record levels of the late 1990s, they nonetheless have recovered nicely from the impact of the 2001 recession and are expected to continue to exhibit good growth overall."

Dan Rickman, a professor of economics at Oklahoma State University, said the state numbers reflect national trends.

"Recovery is gaining strength, despite all the natural forces like hurricanes and things," he said.