Recovery from Coronavirus-Related Job Losses May Be a Slow Process in Oklahoma

Dec 1, 2020

Out-of-work Oklahomans wait for help from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission at a summer claims event.
Credit Oklahoma Employment Security Commission

Oklahoma’s recovery from the recession triggered by the coronavirus pandemic may take some time.

Lynn Gray is Economic Research and Analysis Director for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. He said during a Tuesday commission meeting the state lost 145,000 jobs from February through April. From May through October, fewer than 68,000 were recovered.

"Now, again, I’m speaking simplistic. They’re not all job to job," Gray said.

Gray said the rate of job recovery is slowing, with Oklahoma averaging a net gain of 2,800 jobs a month over the past four months and even lower rates more recently.

"The last two months were 1,000 jobs a month. Certainly, that’s not what we hope to see, that type of a transition, 1,000 a month. That will take a really long time," Gray said.

The Oklahoma City metro is recovering faster than Tulsa. Gray said the Tulsa metro is lagging when it comes to getting back jobs in a very important industry: manufacturing.

"Even though Tulsa’s smaller in terms of its population and employment, there are more manufacturing jobs in Tulsa metro area than there are in Oklahoma City," Gray said.

Tulsa is also seeing slower job recovery than Oklahoma City in the broad categories of professional and business services and trade, transportation and utilities.

Gray reminded the commission recovery to peak employment after recessions that hit in 2001 and 2008 took more than four years.

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate in October was 6.1%, up from 5.3% in September.