The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said there are thousands of job openings in the Oklahoma City area. They're hoping to fill many of those positions as extra federal benefits end this weekend.
The unemployment rate in Oklahoma is getting closer to pre-pandemic rates, but Shelley Zumwalt with the OESC said more work needs to be done.
“So in February of 2020, we were at 3.1%, and we're now at 4.0%. There's still a little room left to get back to pre-pandemic levels. We're exciting because the number keeps going down and hopefully we'll have a sub-four number in the next couple of months,” Zumwalt said.
OESC hosted a job fair to address this. They said they've notice it's hard for certain industries like hospitality to find employees. Alex Fields with Swadley's Bar-B-Q said he noticed that when they started recruiting for their new location.
“It was very difficult. It seemed like nobody wanted to come to work at that particular time due to stimulus they were getting, the unemployment, but it looks like things are turning around for us, right now,” Fields said.
Kendall Hendricks attended the job fair.
“You got to worry about dealing with so many other people also looking for jobs, so the competition out here is pretty fierce. It's just a matter of setting yourself apart from everyone,” Hendricks said.
He said he's been looking for a job for months. In this situation, it's important to stay positive, he said.
“It's been a little difficult but I’m always saving up some money just in case something happened. Always know tomorrow is going to be a better day so that's what's going to help me out,” Hendricks said.
Oklahoma is offering $1,200 to a limited number of unemployed workers as an incentive to get folks back to work. Enrollment for that incentive starts on Monday.