theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

August 31, 2007

County unemployment rate jumps

Most residents who lost jobs in early July are back at work

ADA — There’s good news and bad news about Pontotoc County employment.

First, the bad news. The county’s unemployment rate jumped dramatically in July, according to the latest statistics compiled by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

Now the good news. Most of those who lost their jobs during the first two weeks of the month are now back on the job.

According to the OESC report, Pontotoc County’s unemployment rate increased from 3.9 percent in June to 4.9 percent in July. That’s the most significant jump in several years.

“It’s really not as bad as it sounds,” said John Carpenter, OESC public information officer. “There were some job losses at the cup company that closed in Allen. And Flex-N-Gate in Ada had some significant layoffs during the first two weeks of July. I believe most of those workers are back on the job.”

Carpenter said unemployment statistics are typically a month or so behind.

Statewide and nationally, the percentage of unemployed workers increased from 4.7 in June to 4.9 in July. Oklahoma’s rate in July 2006 was 4.0 percent, while the national rate was 5.0 percent.

Regional rates of idled workers include Arkansas, 5.9 percent; Missouri, 5.0 percent; Kansas, 4.9 percent; Texas, 4.8 percent; Louisiana, 4.4 percent, and New Mexico, 4.8 percent.

“More than 80 percent of the state’s 77 counties reported over-the-month unemployment rate increases,” the OESC report said.

Neighboring Hughes County’s rate skyrocketed from 7.0 percent in June to 8.4 percent in July. McCurtain County has the highest rate in Oklahoma — 8.7 percent, up from 7.8 percent in June. Coal County is right behind at 8.6 percent, up from 7.3 percent a month earlier.

Beckham and Kingfisher counties have the lowest rate of unemployed workers — 3.3 percent.

Other area rates include Johnston, 5.7 percent; Murray, 3.4 percent; Garvin, 4.5 percent and Seminole, 7.2 percent.

Oklahoma’s rising unemployment rate comes on the heels of a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey that the number of Oklahomans living in poverty in 2006 reached 17 percent, tying Oklahoma with Kentucky for the seventh-highest rate in the country.

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