Unemployment increasing in Tulsa

Employment fell in both of Oklahoma’s large counties from June 2008 to June 2009 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Regional Commissioner Stanley W. Suchman noted that Tulsa County experienced the larger drop, down 5.0 percent, while Oklahoma County fell at a slower rate, 3.6 percent. 

Employment nationwide fell 5.1 percent during the 12-month period as 324 of the 334 largest U.S. counties registered declines. Elkhart County, Ind., recorded the largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment in the country, down 21.9 percent. Yakima County, Wash., registered the fastest growth, up 1.5 percent, and was one of only three large counties nationwide to experience a gain.

Oklahoma’s two large counties accounted for nearly half (49.7 percent) of the State’s total employment with 410,400 employed in Oklahoma County and 333,800 in Tulsa in June 2009. Nationwide, the 334 largest counties made up 71.2 percent of U.S. total employment.

From the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2009, average weekly wages fell 0.5 percent in Tulsa County and 1.5 percent in Oklahoma County. (See table 1.) Average weekly wages were nearly identical in these two counties at $765 in Oklahoma and $763 in Tulsa. Nationally, average weekly wages fell 0.1 percent over the year to $840.

Employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) are also available for the 75 counties in Oklahoma with employment below 75,000. Wage levels in all of these counties were below the national average. (See table 2.)

Large county wage changes
The percentage declines in average weekly wages in Oklahoma’s large counties placed both in the bottom third of the national ranking among the 334 largest U.S. counties in the second quarter of 2009.  The 0.5-percent wage decline in Tulsa County ranked 226th and the 1.5-percent decrease in Oklahoma County ranked 274th.

As noted, the average weekly wage for the nation was down 0.1 percent during the period. This was the second consecutive over-the-year decline in average weekly wages and one of only four declines dating back to 1978. Average weekly wages are affected by changes in total wages, as well as employment changes in high- and low-paying industries. Large employment and wage losses in the high-paying industries of financial activities and manufacturing contributed significantly to the overall decline in the U.S. average weekly wages this quarter.

Among the 334 largest counties in the nation, 140 had over-the-year decreases in average weekly wages in the second quarter.  The largest wage loss occurred in Weld, Colo., with a decline of 9.0 percent from the second quarter of 2008. Trumbull, Ohio, had the second largest decline (-7.6 percent), followed by the counties of Douglas, Colo. (-6.1 percent), Brazoria, Texas (-5.3 percent), and Santa Clara, Calif. (-5.2 percent).

Among the 175 large counties where average weekly wages rose, Olmsted, Minn. led with an increase of 10.8 percent from the second quarter of 2008. Saginaw, Mich., and Kitsap, Wash., ranked second with a gain of 5.1 percent each, followed by the counties of Madison, Ala. (5.0 percent) and Newport News City, Va. (4.9 percent).

Large county average weekly wages
Although average weekly wages in the State’s two large counties declined over the year, their wages were still sufficiently high to place both in the middle third of the national ranking in the second quarter of 2009.  Oklahoma County’s average wage of $765 ranked 188th and Tulsa County’s wage of $763 ranked 193rd.

More than two-thirds of the largest U.S. counties (225) reported average weekly wages below the national average in the second quarter of 2009. The lowest wage was reported in Horry, S.C. ($520), followed by the counties of Cameron, Texas, and Hidalgo, Texas ($544 each), Webb, Texas ($558), and Yakima, Wash. ($589). Wages in these lowest-ranked counties were less than 40 percent of the average weekly wage reported for the highest-ranked county, New York.

Average weekly wages were higher than the national average in 109 of the 334 largest U.S. counties. New York, N.Y., held the top position among the highest-paid large counties with an average weekly wage of $1,520. Santa Clara, Calif., was second with an average weekly wage of $1,449, followed by Arlington, Va. ($1,423), Washington, D.C. ($1,421), and Fairfax, Va. ($1,348).

Average weekly wages in Oklahoma’s smaller counties
For smaller counties in Oklahoma – those with employment below 75,000 – all 75 reported weekly wages below the national average ($840) in the second quarter of 2009. Among the smallest counties, Washington ($759) and Latimer ($703) posted the highest average wages in the second quarter of 2009. Cimarron reported the lowest average weekly wage at $462. 

When all 77 counties in Oklahoma were considered, 24 reported average wages under $550 per week, 49 registered wages from $550 to $699, and 4 had wages of $700 or more.  The higher-paying counties were generally concentrated around the larger metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, while the lower-paying counties, those with weekly wages under $550, were generally located along the southern and eastern borders of the State. 


Additional Statistics and Other Information
For additional information about quarterly employment and wages data, visit the QCEW Web site at www.bls.gov/cew/.

An annual bulletin, Employment and Wages, features comprehensive information by detailed industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all states. The 2007 edition of this bulletin contains selected data produced by Business Employment Dynamics (BED) on job gains and losses, as well as selected data from the first quarter 2008 version of the news release. Tables and additional content from the 2007 Employment and Wages Annual Bulletin are now available online at www.bls.gov/cew/cewbultn07.htm. These tables present final 2007 annual averages. The tables are included on the CD which accompanies the hardcopy version of the Annual Bulletin. Employment and Wages Annual Averages, 2007 is available online as a chartbook or for sale from the United States Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250, telephone (866) 512-1800, outside Washington, D.C. Within Washington, D.C., the telephone number is (202) 512-1800. The fax number is (202) 512-2104. Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; TDD message referral phone number: 1-800-877-8339.

For personal assistance or further information on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Program, as well as other Bureau programs, contact the Dallas Information Office at 972-850-4800 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. CT.