Unemployment rates dipped across Southwest Oklahoma from June to August, although they remained well above last year’s pre-pandemic levels.

Six of the region’s 11 counties reported jobless rates below the state average of 5.7 percent in August, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. The highest rate was 7.6 percent in Stephens County, which is suffering from a downturn in the energy sector that began before the pandemic struck.

In a separate survey, the commission estimated that nonfarm employment in the Lawton metro area (Comanche and Cotton counties) grew to 43,600, a gain of 500 jobs from July but down 1.100 from August 2019, a loss of 2.5 percent over the year. The Oklahoma City metro area lost 3.1 percent of its employment from the previous August and the Tulsa metro’s employment fell by 5.6 percent and the Enid metro’s employment shrank by 8.6 percent.

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