Oklahoma unemployment rates increase
(KTEN) -- Oklahoma's unemployment rate increased slightly to 3.2 percent in September. In August, Carter County's unemployment rate was at 3.9 percent.
“Oklahoma, on the whole, tends to have somewhat of low labor participation for a number of reasons... medical reasons, child care tends to fall into that,” said Ardmore Development Authority executive Andrea Anderson.
In February of this year, Oklahoma's jobless rate was 2.6 percent. That figure began to rise during the summer months.
“In terms of unemployment rates, we are still top 10 percent in the nation,” said Don Morris, executive director of Oklahoma Works. “Our rates are very low, but any time you get below 4 percent, it becomes a pain point because it's a good number to be at economically, but when it comes to an employer trying to find a worker, it means there are fewer people out there to recruit.”
Anderson said labor force participation numbers were at a high point in June 2018, when medical marijuana was legalized.
“Since then, we have lost about 1,600 workers,” she said. ”You can’t necessarily tell if the two are connected... whether they have gone to work in the cannabis industry, or -- for whatever reason -- their employers won't seek people with medical marijuana cards. So that is something our employers do say is a bigger issue than what they thought it would be.”
Oklahoma Works provides resources for both employers and job-seekers.
“We help people make the transition to an up-skilled job or go from unemployment to work by means of better training, so we partner with education in the area, companies, and employers, and we work with people to get the training they need to match jobs,” Morris said. “That's really how we grow and build the workforce.”