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Oklahoma unemployment rate tops national average for first time in 26 years

American dollars, Photo: tOrange.us / CC BY-SA 4.0

American dollars, Photo: tOrange.us / CC BY-SA 4.0

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s treasurer says state revenue declined for the 18th consecutive month in August as unemployment in Oklahoma exceeded the national rate for the first time in 26 years.

Treasurer Ken Miller said Tuesday that gross receipts to the state treasury were down 4 percent last month compared with the same month last year. Collections during the past 12 months were off by more than 7 percent compared with the prior period.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says the state’s unemployment is 5 percent, higher than the national rate of 4.9 percent in July. The last time Oklahoma’s jobless rate topped the nation’s was in 1990.

Miller says that two revenue sources _ individual income and motor vehicle taxes _ were each around 5 percent higher than in August 2015.

Miller, an economist, said he has yet to find any indication that the state’s economic slump over the last two years shows any sign of ending soon.

“We keep scouring through the data to find signs of an impending turnaround, but it’s just not there,” Miller said in a statement. “Some aspects of the August report aren’t as negative as in prior months _ a few revenue streams have ticked up slightly _ but we can’t yet point to a positive trend.”