Lawton--It seems everywhere you look in Lawton, there are help wanted signs. Employers are looking for workers. You would think that the unemployment rate here would be relatively high, but it's just the opposite. Comanche County is seeing its lowest unemployment rates in a long time.
The national average is 5.5%.
In Oklahoma, it's 4.1%.
In Comanche County, the unemployment rate is 3.7%.
With so many folks working---why are there still so many jobs available? A big reason is BRAC. At least 12,000 soldiers and their families are expected to move here over the next few years. So, businesses want to expand to handle that population growth. But, they haven't arrived yet, so those employers are still looking to fill those jobs.
Charles Sutterfield, the manager of the Oklahoma Workforce Center, says so many employers have already set up shop in anticipation of the growth spurt. But so far, there's not enough people to fill positions. "There's going to be a gap while the population catches up," Sutterfield said.
Another reason why so many folks are not taking advantage of the jobs out there, people are holding out for higher-paying jobs and passing on the minimum wage work, which makes up most of the available jobs.
Sutterfield says, right now, the Lawton area will continue to see many jobs not filled. That's because the BRAC families haven't even started moving into the area just yet. Until that gap is filled, he feels employers will continue to look for help.