Garfield County’s unemployment rate increased in May, pushed higher by layoffs at a couple of manufacturing companies. But it still is well below the state and national rates.

According to new information from the U.S. Department of Labor, the jobless rate in the county edged up to 4.2 percent in May, the latest month for which information is available. That compares to 4.0 percent in April and 2.4 percent in May 2008.

Joy Blakley, manager of Enid Workforce Center, said Garfield County is doing very well when compared to several other counties in the state.

“It is still really low compared to the rest of the state,” she said. “If you look, there aren’t too many as low as that. If we can stay that low we are doing pretty good.”

The state unemployment rate stood at 6.3 percent in May, while the national rate went up to 9.5 percent in June, according to the Labor Department.

The increase in the unemployment rate is from major layoffs in the county and surrounding counties, Blakley said.

“We had some major layoffs in this area,” she said. “GEFCO laid off, Hackney Ladish laid off. We are affected by the numbers laid off at Ditch Witch in Noble County. There are a number of people who drive over there from Enid.

“There are also smaller businesses, 10 people or so, and they have laid off three or four people,” she said. “That affects us ultimately. We are fairing pretty good. It could be a lot worse. It is due to the layoffs we have had in the area.”

Jon Blankenship, president and CEO of Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, agrees the county unemployment rate is a positive, when compared to the state and national rates.

“It still reflects we are doing better than the state and far better than the national average,” he said. “But, we do have some businesses that have been impacted, especially businesses doing national business.

“We are holding our own. We are still doing better than other communities in the state and nation,” he said.

Blankenship said some businesses in the area have reduced their work forces, but others also have reduced hours.

“I think we have some businesses going to shorter work days and work weeks and some layoffs,” he said. “We don’t like to see any increase in unemployment, but we do like to see we are lower than the state and national averages.”

Garfield County’s unemployment rate is similar to those in neighboring counties.

In northwest Oklahoma, Grant County had the lowest unemployment rate in May at 3.6 percent. The highest was Woodward County at 6.2 percent.

Others are: Alfalfa County, 4.5 percent; Blaine County, 5.1 percent; Kingfisher County, 4.2 percent; Major County, 4.6 percent; and Woods County, 4.1 percent.

Hughes County had the state’s highest unemployment rate in May at 11.7 percent. Others with double-digit rates were Latimer County, 10.5 percent and LeFlore County, 10.1 percent.

Cotton County had the lowest at 3.3 percent. Grant County tied for the second-lowest rate in the state.

Garfield County’s lowest unemployment rate in 2008 and this year was 1.9 percent in April 2008.

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