Unemployment rates for Carter County have been trending down in recent months, and experts say it’s because Oklahoma is bouncing back from its oil recession.
In July, Carter County’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent — a stark contrast from 5.4 percent in July 2016, according to a Oklahoma Employment Security Commission report.
“We went through a recession when there was not a national recession in 2015-16 due to lower oil and gas prices,” said Lynn Gray, director of economic research and analysis for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. “We lost one third of jobs in oil and gas. But, now we’re seeing unemployment rates dropping and people being reemployed in oil and gas.”
“All indicators, right now, point to the recession ending,” he added. “Now we are recovering.”
According to the OESC report, Murray County’s unemployment rate is at four percent, Johnston County is at five percent, Love County is at three percent, Marshall County is at five percent,  Jefferson County is at 5.8 percent, while Stephens county is at a whopping 6.9 percent.
However, McIntosh County has the highest rates in the state, with unemployment at 8.2 percent.
Inside Carter County,
Ardmore itself has seen a decrease in unemployment with rates dropping a sixth of a percent since last year, according to the report. Ardmore’s unemployment rate is currently 4.3 percent as only 1,508 people in the Ardmore-area are unemployed. While the data shows trends that are positive for Ardmore, they don’t take into account the number of people who have stopped filing as unemployed, or those who have stopped seeking a job for whatever reason.
The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce puts out an economic indicators report with their chamber newsletter every month. The August newsletter featured totals from May. Chamber President and CEO Mita Bates said this was because at the time of publication more recent numbers had not been finalized.
According to the Chamber’s reports, the number of unemployed people has decreased from 2016. In May of 2016, Carter County had 1205 people unemployed, and in 2017 only 1097 people were unemployed. Bates said the trends are a result of the energy sector recovering.
“The data reflects a continued stability marked with slow growth,” Bates said. “Many companies are hiring and we’ve seen a rebound in the energy sector. Business and Industry are optimistic that we will see an improved business climate moving forward.”
Carter County’s numbers aren’t far off the national average of 4.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the national level, job growth increased in food services and drinking places, professional and business services, and healthcare.
Bates said that because Ardmore’s industry is so diverse, it provides a lot of opportunity for skilled workers to find employment.
“Ardmore is a regional hub for businesses and industry,” Bates said. “Our distribution centers offer opportunities for those of all skill levels to work.”
Numbers for August won’t be available until later this week, or the beginning of next week, but if trends continue, the Oklahoma recession could be over.
“Unemployment will continue to decline as the business climate gets better,” Bates said.