Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 4, 2012

Local unemployment figures down, tax collections up

TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee County’s unemployment rate took a major dive in March, while the latest sales-tax collections show an upward move.

The county’s unemployment rate had been holding steady above the 5 and 6 percent marks for several months, but preliminary data from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission show it fell in March to 4.8 percent – the lowest recording for Cherokee County since August 2011’s showing of 4.7 percent.

It’s also the lowest March recording since 2008, when the county’s unemployment rate was 3 percent. The decline is in step with many other Oklahoma counties that month.

“I think business is doing well in Tahlequah, and that was confirmed by last month’s sales tax report, which showed a huge spike in sales taxes,” said Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Director David Moore. “Unemployment is going to go lower as more people get hired, and as the tourism industry begins to rebound in the state.”

The number of people unemployed in Cherokee County in March was lower than 5 percent only three times last year: in April, May, and August.

The county’s March recording ranked 36th overall in the state – meaning 41 other counties had a lower rate – but was the lowest recording in northeast Oklahoma for the month. Out of a labor force of 24,731 people, there were approximately 1,177 who unemployed in the county, the OESC data show.

Meanwhile, the April distribution of sales tax for the city of Tahlequah, representing sales primarily from February business, show the city raked in more than $581,600, compared to $542,700 the previous month, and $518,000 during the same month in 2011.

Though Sequoyah County saw a large improvement in its overall unemployment rate in March, the county still had the highest rate in the state, at 9 percent, down from 11.6 percent in February. Adair County reported a 6.4 percent unemployment rate, down from 8.2 percent; Muskogee County reported a 6.2 percent rate, down from 8 percent; Mayes County reported a 5.9 percent rate, down from 7.7 percent; Delaware County logged a 5.2 percent, down from 7 percent; and Wagoner County had a 4.8 percent unemployment rate, an improvement from February’s 6.3 percent.

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