Unemployment rate improves in Stephens County

LAWTON, Ok (RNN Texoma) -Stephens County's unemployment rate has improved from last year. It stood at about 8.7 percent this time last year and is now at 5.3 percent. The foundation hopes to bring the unemployment rate down even further by bringing in more diverse businesses.

The Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation said they were able to bring in about 600 jobs to the county in the last year. Although the rate slightly increased last month, they're not as concerned because those numbers often have slight fluctuations.

Stephens County is making strides to improve there unemployment rate.

"We're trying to do what we can do to recruit new business industry to the area or as I also look at this and say if you know 200 more people were hired in our community that would take us down to about a four percent or four point two percent unemployment," said Roggow.

President of the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation Lyle Roggow said in the past year several restaurants and retailers have brought their business to Stephens County, bringing in more jobs.

"I would say we're back to where our boom is, I mean, and it's not as good as it was maybe in 2014, that was kind of the peak of when things were really, really good, but you know, the hoteliers and the other folks are saying that 2018 is really starting to come back and looks really, really encouraging and it looked really good for them and we're just off to the start," said Roggow.

According to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission Stephens County is one of the the state's top producers of oil and natural gas. Roggow adds Halliburton's success contributes to a decrease in the unemployment rate.

"When things are good with them is good for everybody and all the service providers in the area because you know, they also outsource products to different shops. And so when, when Halliburton needs equipment, I mean, they look to the Wilco's they look to several other providers of equipment and that does nothing but help bolster what we have to have within our community," said Roggow.

And companies like Wilco Machine and Fab who specialize in fabricated metal components and welded sub-assemblies are looking for people who have certain skill sets that can benefit the company, that includes a need for industrial painters.

"You know, that's something that I would say we have to continue to work on finding out what those existing businesses needs are, um, for their companies and try to fulfill those and try to get students and trying to get, you know, displaced workers into skill sets," said Roggow.

The foundation receives monthly reports from the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission, and they use that information about the employment needs of businesses to work towards decreasing unemployment rate.

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