FILE - Help Wanted Unemployment

(The Center Square) – The number of initial unemployment claims filed by Oklahoma residents increased by 672 during the week ending Dec. 18, according to information released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The latest statistics, which are not seasonally adjusted, show that 2,441 people filed for new unemployment benefits in the state, up from 1,769 filed the week of Dec. 11.

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate was the third-lowest in the U.S. as of Dec. 17 at 2.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number was a record low for the state, according to a news release from Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The number of unemployed Oklahomans was also the lowest since March of 1980 at 46,268.

“To see any decrease in unemployment when Oklahoma has already fallen below rates prior to the pandemic, shows the prioritization of workforce growth by the Stitt administration and OESC,” Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt said. “Additionally, we are seeing growth in hourly wages in the private sector that eclipse the prior wages from the last 12 months.”

The state’s continuing unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 11 were 12,167, a decrease of 1,832 from the previous week.

The numbers are encouraging, but there’s still work to do, Stitt said in the news release.

“While we celebrate record low unemployment, we must also remain focused on expanding and training Oklahoma’s workforce to make sure businesses can hire and retain the employees they need to keep our economy thriving,” the governor said.

The number of seasonally adjusted initial claims filed nationally the week ending Dec. 18 was 205,000, according to the Labor Department.

The number of continuing unemployment claims in the U.S. dropped 8,000 from the previous week to 1,859,000 for the week ending Dec. 11. It’s the lowest level since March 14, 2020, according to the Labor Department.

Associate Editor

Kim Jarrett's career spans over 30 years with stops in radio, print and television. She has won awards from both the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.