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Stephens County employment rate rises

Stephens County showed the most improvement among the state's 77 counties in 2017 in cutting its unemployment rate, according to the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission.

As the year reached its end, the county's unemployment rate stood at 5.2 percent, an improvement of 3.8 percentage points from the 9 percent rate recorded for Stephens County at the conclusion of 2016. The only other county in the state to record a comparable drop was Beckham County, which saw its unemployment rate drop by 3.5 percentage points between the fall of 2016 and the fall of 2017.

Stephens and Beckham counties are among the state's top producers of oil and natural gas, according to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The significant drop in their unemployment rates likely reflects stabilization and an emerging rebound in the energy industry. The state as a whole also has recorded gains recently in jobs related to oil and natural gas production and related service industries. According to the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, the industry added at least 5,000 jobs in the state between January and June 2017.

A recent press release by Halliburton used the word "booming" to describe activity in the U.S. onshore oil business, especially in West Texas. Halliburton, which has a strong presence in Stephens County, expects to continue doing well in 2018, with lots of activity driven by hydraulic fracturing, chief executive Jeff Miller said. 

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