4.22.23 – Oklahoman
Oklahoma’s economy added more than 7,300 jobs in March, while the number of job seekers declined slightly and the unemployment rate stayed at 3%, according to numbers released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.
Total employment in the state last month was 1.845 million, seasonally adjusted. Nearly 57,000 were in the ranks of the unemployed. The rate of 3% was the same as February and down from 3.1% in January. The unemployment rate in March 2022 was 2.8%.
The national unemployment rate this March was 3.5%. Oklahoma was one of 18 states with a jobless rate below the national rate. South Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in March, at 1.9%, while Nevada had the highest, at 5.5%.
Trae Rahill, executive director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, said Friday that the state still has about two job openings for every job seeker.
The matches aren’t always perfect between available slots and available workers, he said, but there are enough open positions to accommodate most people, he said.
“In general. If someone in Oklahoma is willing to work, we could put them in a number of jobs today,” Rahill said.
Nonfarm employment declined by 1,300 jobs in Oklahoma last month from the previous month, though it was up by 41,400 from March, 2022. The trade, transportation and utilities sector logged the biggest month-to-month loss, while the government and mining and logging sectors recorded the most gains.
The private sector hourly wage in March was $27.44 per hour in Oklahoma, up 18 cents over the previous month and up $1.72 from March, 2022.
Gov. Kevin Stitt promoted Oklahoma’s business climate to representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland this week during a trip to Washington, where he also met with White House clean energy adviser, John Podesta.
The governor signed a memorandum of understanding with United Kingdom Minister for International Trade Nigel Huddleston aimed at deepening economic ties.
Huddleston said in a news release that U.K. companies employed over 10,000 Oklahomans last year and that the state had exported nearly $150 million worth of goods to the U.K.
“Signing this MOU signifies our joint commitment to growing these numbers through addressing barriers, delivering trade missions, and encouraging investment — helping business in the UK and Oklahoma to grow and create jobs,” he said.
Stitt said Friday that he had worked on the MOU for three years and that it would effectively serve as free advertising for Oklahoma in the United Kingdom. The governor said he also was planning to attend a conference next month in Washington to make additional pitches to representatives of foreign countries.
The governor has been trying to land a clean energy project for an industrial park in eastern Oklahoma and is hoping to convince legislators to put up $240 million in infrastructure and other costs on top of nearly $700 million in tax credits for an electric vehicle battery maker promising 3,500 jobs.