Oklahomans struggle to find jobs amid state’s lowest unemployment rates

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The Oklahoma Job Security Commission says the state’s unemployment rates are the lowest we’ve seen since at least 2017, standing at around 2.9%.

That’s lower than the national average of 3.6%, but some Oklahomans say they’re still unable to land jobs. We’ve spoken with Oklahomans who say they learn they’re underqualified or overqualified for the jobs they’re applying for, leaving them with no job at all.

We know what you’re thinking, yes there are help-seeking signs on every corner, but for people like Haley Armstrong and Courtney Ervin, it’s not just about taking the first job at minimum wage they see.

“I actually have three degrees,” Ervin said. “An associate in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and a master’s degree in criminal justice.”

Ervin has three degrees and worked in criminal justice for more than five years, but said he cannot be recalled. She says that without a recent work history, she also cannot get an apartment and has little access to health insurance.

“I’m living off my savings, I have maybe a month before it’s over, I don’t want a part-time job but I will if I have to,” Ervin said.

Haley Armstrong tells me that she and her husband were both recently unemployed. Her husband has been able to find work, but she is looking for a job in customer service that pays a living wage. She said she felt she was rarely taken seriously since she was 18.

“I have been looking for a job for three months but no one will give me an interview, I don’t know if it is because of my age, but even if I meet all the qualifications, they will refuse me and say that I am not qualified,” Armstrong said.

She said she wanted to work, but even after sending over 55 applications, she still gets no response.

“There are a lot of people like me, we’re not lazy or don’t want to work,” Armstrong said. “I have a ton of motivation and I want to do great things one day, but it’s hard when nobody gives you the time of day to try and do those things.

Haley and Courtney say they spend most of their day applying for jobs, hoping to get an interview and find something as fears of even higher inflation rates and a potential recession continue to profile.

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