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Oklahoma's unemployment rate continues to climb to 4.5 percent, driven by retail trade losses

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma's unemployment rate climbed to 4.5 percent last month, marking the third increase in as many months, the state's Employment Security Commission reported on Tuesday.

The report noted an estimated 83,000 residents were unemployed in June, which saw an increase from the 4.3 percent unemployment rate in May.

The commission reported Oklahoma shed a total of 2,100 jobs last month, with 1,500 of those in the retail-trade sector. Another 900 jobs were lost in the local, state and federal government jobs sector.

"Those government losses kind of fall into line with losses that we typically see in June each year, having to do with teachers and public schools and universities being out of session," said OESC spokesman John Carpenter.

Oklahoma actually saw an increase of about 100 jobs in the oil and gas sector, but Carpenter said many of the overall employment losses likely still were a result of energy sector jobs over the last year.

"Certainly you'd expect to see some losses as people who had money to spend before they were laid off this year don't have that money to go out and spend," Carpenter said. "I think the oil and gas layoffs are definitely still a driving factor in what we're seeing right now in the economy."

One bright spot in this month's unemployment report was 1,000 new construction jobs, the largest May-to-June increase in the construction sector since 1990.

Oklahoma's June unemployment rate also was still well below the national average of 5.3 percent.

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