ADA — Pontotoc County’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in six years, according to the latest report by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

The Ada-area jobless rate in September dropped to 3.2 percent, down from 3.6 percent in August and 4.4 percent in July. Pontotoc County’s rate in September 2005 was 3.7 percent.

There were 19,520 employed and 640 unemployed in Pontotoc County, the report showed.

Statewide, Oklahoma’s unemployment rate dropped from 4 percent in August to 3.8 percent in September. The Sooner State’s jobless rate was 4.1 in September 2005, the report said.

Nationally, the jobless rate in September was 4.4 percent, down from 4.6 percent in August and 5 percent in July. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.8 in September 2005.

“Overall job growth stabilized in September and showed signs of rebounding from the slowing pace of job creation seen over the past few months,” said Lynn Gray, OESC chief economist. “In addition, Oklahoma’s unemployment rate dropped over the month but stayed within the same narrow range it has occupied for all of 2006.”

An official at the OESC office in Ada declined comment on the report and referred inquiries to the Oklahoma City office.

Construction jobs continued to grow but at a slower pace because of rising interest rates. The big gain was in the energy sector — a jump of 8.1 percent driving energy employment to its highest level since 1990, Gray said.

Fortune magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies includes three Oklahoma energy firms: Chesapeake Energy, ranked No. 30 overall, with revenues of $5.8 billion and a three-year annual growth rate of 74 percent; Unit Corp., with revenues of $996.8 million and a growth rate of 67 percent, ranked No. 37. Also, ONEOK’s overall rating based on its revenues of $13.8 billion and growth rate of 118 percent placed the Tulsa-based energy company at No. 55. In terms of revenue growth alone, ONEOK ranked No. 2 among the 100 companies listed. ConocoPhillips, which is based in Houston but maintains a significant presence in Bartlesville, ranked No. 75 overall, reporting revenues of $190 billion and a 37 percent growth rate.

There is a good news/bad news scenario for Pontotoc County’s neighbors.

First, the good news. Murray County enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate (2.6 percent) in the state, according to the OESC report. Ellis County also had a 2.6 percent jobless rate.

Second, the bad news. Coal County had the highest unemployment rate in the state, 6.2 percent in September, up from 6.1 percent in August and 6.9 percent in July. The jobless rate in September 2005 was 5.5 percent.

Hughes County’s rate dropped from 6.2 percent in August to 5.9 percent in September, but still ranked 76th of 77 counties. Seminole County’s jobless rate in September declined to 5.6 percent in September from 6 percent in August. Also, Garvin and McClain counties had 3.4 percent unemployment rates, Johnston County came in at 3.9 and Pottowatomie was at 4.3 percent.

Statewide, natural resources and mining employment continued to expand at a pace well above that of the state as whole. In September, industry employment was the highest it has been since 1990, the monthly report said.

Gray said growth in construction in the Sooner State has slowed in recent months.

During the first two quarters of 2006, construction posted annual growth rates above 6 percent. For the third quarter that ended in September, the industry’s annual growth rate fell to 3.4 percent. For the September-to-September period, the growth rate was down to 2.7 percent. Growth is slowing in both the residential and non-residential parts of the industry.

The report also noted that the employment sector of professional and business services dropped jobs during the August-to-September period for the first time since 2001. Employment in the area is down about 3.5 percent from a year ago.

Regionally, Oklahoma’s 3.8 percent jobless rate was slightly higher than Louisiana, where hurricane-rebuilding efforts pushed unemployment down to 3.7 percent. Other neighboring states have higher rates: Kansas and New Mexico (4.1 percent), Texas (4.7 percent) and Missouri (4.8 percent).

Overall, the Sooner State has added 19,700 jobs in the past year, a growth rate of 1.3 percent. However, officials warn that figure could increase when those who lost their jobs at Dayton Tire Co. in Oklahoma City and elsewhere enter the system.

Oklahoma’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate has remained the lowest in the seven-state region for thirty-five consecutive months, according to the state Department of Commerce statistics.

The Ada Workforce Oklahoma office is located at 1628 E Beverly, Suite 115, Ada, OK 74820; Phone: (580) 332-1533; fax: (580) 421-9265 or e-mail: ada@oesc.state.ok.us. The office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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