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Economic and Employment Climate in the Southwest USA

Part I. Oklahoma

Labor/Employment Climate in Oklahoma

In March 2018, the unemployment rate in Oklahoma was 3.3%, .5% lower than the national average of 3.8% in the same period. The unemployment has been on a significant downward trend, an indication of job creation in the state. The construction industry saw a significant increase in jobs by seeing a 5.9% increase in employment, followed by the mining and logging industry which had a 5.7% increase. Conversely, there was a 2.7% decrease in jobs in the information industry followed by the manufacturing industry with a 2.4% decrease.

Wages Report

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2017, the average hourly wage was $21.76, which fell 11% short of the national average hourly wage of $24.34. Despite the overall difference, the production industry maintained a higher average wage than the national average in the same category.

Employment Outlook

What does this mean for job seekers? For starters, there is an optimistic outlook on the employment rate. Given that there has been a strong downward trend since 2012, we can expect to see this rate decreasing and more jobs created. The industries in which will be leading in creating these jobs are the logging and construction industries, followed by government employment.

For those who may still find themselves out of work, filing for unemployment benefits may be helpful to weathering the period in between jobs. To qualify for Oklahoma benefits, the claimant must meet the criteria described below.

Unemployment Benefits

To qualify for Oklahoma unemployment benefits a prior employee must be unemployed at the time of filing for claims or must be working less than full-time hours and earning less income than projected weekly benefit amount from the claim. Must have lost a job by circumstances outside the claimant's control. Must be actively seeking work, available and physically able to work.

The above paragraph cites some of the eligibility requirements for Oklahoma unemployment benefits. Upon submitting the claim and receiving a decision from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, claimants have an option to appeal a failed application within 10 days of receiving the decision. If the claim application was successful, the claimant can expect to receive a debit card from the commission within 7 to 10 days of the notification of approval. This card is one option to the method of receiving the claimant's benefits.

Alternatively, one can choose to receive the payments by a personal prepaid debit card or a by a direct transfer to a personal bank account. An important item to remember is that claims must be filed weekly upon approval from the commission in order to receive weekly benefits. Included in weekly claims are any incomes earned from part-time work which are then considered in calculating the claim payments.

The commission offers a robust set of support services for unemployed persons. Re-employment services are geared towards enabling the unemployed to sharpen their skills through job skills workshops and aid in the search for suitable work.



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