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Unemployment Rates Spike Throughout Oklahoma

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Unemployment rates reached 4.8 percent in Oklahoma last month. Unemployment rates reached 4.8 percent in Oklahoma last month.
Recently unemployed Angela Villarreal searches for jobs online. Recently unemployed Angela Villarreal searches for jobs online.

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In January, nearly every county in Oklahoma saw a spike in unemployment claims. The state's overall unemployment rate is currently 4.8 percent, around two percent lower than the national rate.

Read a breakdown of the counties' increasing unemployment rates.

Many people who have recently been laid off spend much of their time looking for new job opportunities.

"The way the economy is, businesses had to make certain decisions," Angela Villarreal said. "I was in the organization where they cut back."

Villarreal lost her job as a sales and business analyst three weeks ago. She was laid off, after spending 20 years with the same company.

"It is devastating and you kind of mourn because it feels like you're not with your family any longer," Villarreal said. "It is heartbreaking."

She did some temp work two days this week, spending the rest of her time searching for jobs online.

"I still get up with an alarm, I go to the Internet first thing and go to various Web sites and look for new career opportunities," Villarreal said.

People in McCurtain County have experienced the increase unemployment rate the worst. Nine percent of the county is currently unemployed. Beaver County's the least impacted with nearly 2.5 percent unemployed.

"People have to approach the job hunt in a while different way," said David Lewis from Express Employment Professionals.

He said the recently unemployed must lower expectations, take a pay cut or a position that's not as prestigious. He also said temp jobs are on the rise, especially long term temps.

"The higher the level the person was in, the longer it's going to take to find an equivalent position," Lewis said. "Someone on the lower end, earlier in their career may find it a little bit easier to find a job."

Villareal plans to return to school to improve her skills during the tough economic times.

"I just try to stay focused and very optimistic and just know if I stay diligent, that something will come my way," Villareal said.

Express Employment Professionals said there are more jobs available in education, government and health care.

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