Historic low jobless rates in Oklahoma and Texas

There’s no doubt about it….the energy industries in Oklahoma and Texas have pushed jobless rates in the two states to historic lows.

Oklahoma’s rate is down to 3.4% while the rate in Texas has dropped to 3.7% for October. The Texas unemployment level is the same percentage for the nation.

Here’s how the U.S. Labor Department reported Oklahoma’s improved economy.

Oklahoma Unemployment

According to the BLS current population survey (CPS)the unemployment rate for Oklahoma fell 0.1 percentage points in October 2018 to 3.4%. The state unemployment rate was 0.3 percentage points lower than the national rate for the month. The unemployment rate in Oklahoma peaked in January 2010 at 7.1% and is now 3.7 percentage points lower. You can also see Oklahoma unemployment compared to other states.

Unemployment Rate October 2018 Month/Month Year/Year
National 3.7% 0.0 -0.4
Oklahoma 3.4% -0.1 -0.7

Unemployment Rate: OklahomaNational

Oklahoma monthly unemployment rate chart from 1990 to October 2018

Note: Recessions shown in gray

Oklahoma Unemployed

The number of people unemployed in Oklahoma peaked in February 2010 at 124,983. There are now 62,374 fewer people unemployed in the state. Oklahoma job growth data is also available.

Unemployed Persons October 2018 Month/Month Year/Year
Oklahoma 62,609 -2,685 -13,461


In Texas, the seasonally adjusted rate for October dropped to 3.75, down 0.1% from September. The September level was also the lowest since officials started collecting state unemployment data in 1976.

The state has now added 384,800 nonagriculture jobs — the equivalent of IBM’s entire workforce — in the last year.

Texas added 32,300 jobs in October, more than double the increase first reported for September. Last month’s job numbers have since been revised upward significantly.

“What stands out is that Texas had the fastest employment growth rate of any large state: 3.1 percent from October 2017 to October 2018,” said Bud Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University.

He also pointed out that Texas led the nation in total job growth, besting California with its 50 percent larger population.

The trade, transportation and utilities category, which includes retail, was the month’s biggest gainer with 8,900 new jobs. Leisure and hospitality was close behind with 8,700 jobs.

The tight labor market is expected to put pressure on businesses going into the busy holiday season.

Andy Challenger, vice president at the staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said businesses expect high consumer demand in the fourth quarter and need a lot of extra help.

Companies have already announced that they’re looking for a record 714,000 additional holiday workers, he said.

“It’s a particularly tough time when employers are trying to hire at a record pace at a time when there is the fewest number of people available,” Challenger said.

Gov. Greg Abbott pointed to the unemployment rate as a sign the state is on the right track.

“Texas continues to lead the nation in job and business growth, and as the result of our booming economy, unemployment numbers have fallen to a new record low,” he said in a statement.