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First-time jobless claims increase 62% in state, but numbers still declining overall
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First-time jobless claims increase 62% in state, but numbers still declining overall

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Job Fair (copy) (copy)

Adriana Brewer speaks with people at the Walmart booth during an Oklahoma Employment Security Commission job fair at  Tulsa County's Expo Square on May 6.

First-time unemployment claims in the state rose 62% during the week ending Saturday after hitting a pandemic-era low the prior week, according to a government report.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Wednesday that 2,967 initial claims for unemployment benefits were filed the week ending Saturday — 1,139 more than the upwardly-revised total of 1,828 that were filed in the state the week ending Nov. 13.

Still, the four-week moving average of initial claims has declined three consecutive weeks and is now at 2,352 filings.

The increase in initial claims follows another report Friday that indicated that the state unemployment rate was 2.7% in October, a decline from 3% in September.

“Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is third lowest in the nation and the lowest it has been in 45 years since we started using the current method of measuring unemployment in 1976,” said Shelley Zumwalt, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission executive director.

“I’m proud to see Oklahoma progress past pre-pandemic numbers and reach new milestones for our state. Moving forward, we are committed to ensuring that our state sees continued economic growth.”

Only Utah at 2.2% and Nebraska at 1.9% had lower unemployment rates in October, according to preliminary figures.

The decline in unemployment rate comes as the labor force participation rate in the state remained at 60.4% for the second consecutive month. The last time the labor force participation rate was lower was between April 2020 and June 2020, when it ranged from 59.7% to 60.3%

Meanwhile, continued claims, those filed after at least the initial week of unemployment, declined by nearly 8%, going from 14,478 the week ending Nov. 6 to 13,379 the following week.

After rising briefly in mid-October, continued claims have declined every week since then. The 13,379 total continued claims filed is the fewest since May 2019.

The four-week moving average of continued claims declined for the 17th consecutive week to 15,683.

Nationally, initial claims declined by 71,000 to 199,000, the lowest level for initial claims since Nov. 15, 1969, when it was 197,000.

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