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March 19, 2013

County unemployment stays below 5 percent

DUNCAN —  

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate decreased slightly, while Stephens County’s unemployment rate increased.
The most recent unemployment numbers provided by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission were released in December 2012. Those numbers have Oklahoma’s unemployment rate sitting at 5.1 percent and Stephens County’s unemployment rate sitting at 4.4 percent.
According to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission’s website, Oklahoma’s rate decrease by 0.1 percent from November, while Stephens County increased by 0.3 percent during the same period. The national unemployment rate is at 7.7 percent.
“We’re still doing good,” Lyle Roggow, president of the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation, said. “Sometimes we don’t really know how good we’re doing.
“We have a unique engine in Duncan. We’re good if we keep at less than 5 percent.”
Although Stephens County might have seen an increase, the county’s number are lower than 47 of 77 other Oklahoma counties.
According to the website, the county with the highest unemployment rate is LeFlore County with a rate of 8.9 percent. The county with lowest unemployment rate is Ellis County with 2.2 percent.
Roggow said having an unemployment rate that is around 5 percent is the optimum level for Stephens County. Not only does it mean the majority of the county has jobs, it also provides a healthy base of job candidates for employers to choose from.
“Five (percent) is a great balance,” Roggow said. “I’m pretty happy with the numbers.”
Although the unemployment rate is at a positive level, he said, there are ways employment in Stephens County can improve.
The main objective is to grow the labor pool.
“I want us to have more people, more diversity,” Roggow said. “We still have to make it work toward perfection.”

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