OKLAHOMA CITY – The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Oklahoma last month was 7.1%, an increase from the adjusted rate of 6.4% in June, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission announced Aug. 21.
Statewide seasonally adjusted employment in July increased by 23,810 individuals, while unemployment decreased by 14,290 persons from June, the OESC reported.
Oklahoma has one of the lowest unemployment rates in comparison with surrounding states: New Mexico, 12.7%; Texas, 8%; Colorado, 7.4%; Kansas 7.2%; Arkansas, 7.1%; Missouri, 6.9%.
“Though our state’s unemployment rate rose in July, we remain encouraged about the progress Oklahoma businesses continue to make throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Shelley Zumwalt, interim executive director of the OESC.
Nationally, the federal government reported that the number of workers applying for unemployment the week of Aug. 10-14 increased to 1.1 million after two weeks of declines.
In the Sooner State, more Oklahomans are getting a taste of what oil and gas workers experienced in the past several months: the loss of their jobs. The latest are 142 employees of the Vetta Brands operation in Norman, where the apparels plant is being shut down.
In a notice sent to the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, Vetta Chief Financial Officer Jeff Marshall explained the first job separations occurred last week when 54 employees were terminated.
A second round of separations will happen between Sept. 7 and Sept.
21, when 41 employees will lose their jobs, Marshall said. The third round will affect 44 employees who will be terminated between Oct. 5 and Oct. 16. The last separations will affect three employees and happen sometime in mid-November.
The advance number of unadjusted initial unemployment claims in Oklahoma for the week ending Aug. 15 totaled 6,009, an increase of 322 from the previous week’s revised level. The four week moving average of initial claims was 6,808, almost 1,000 fewer than the previous week’s revised average.
The unadjusted number of continuing claims the week ending Aug. 15 totaled 117,141, a decrease of 12,830 from the week before.
Since March 1 the OESC has paid nearly $2.8 billion in weekly unemployment benefits and has processed more than 800,000 claims, the agency reported last week.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently approved Oklahoma’s application for the $300 unemployment assistance benefit, Zumwalt announced. The program is slated to provide benefits through Dec. 27 and payments will be retroactive from Aug. 1.