Oklahoma Outpaces the Nation in Economic Growth
The nation’s economy may be bad but Oklahoma’s economy is actually getting better.
The Oklahoma City Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released their latest issue of the Oklahoma Economist which is a quarterly publication.
Chad Wilkerson, Oklahoma City branch executive, vice president and economist at the Oklahoma City Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, states that Oklahoma continued to outperform the nation in economic growth during the early fall months.
“Oklahoma’s payroll employment was up 2.7 percent from a year ago in October, or more than 42,000 total jobs. This compares to only 1.4% in the nation,” he explained. “The state is now above pre-recession employment levels, unlike the nation, which still has nearly three percent, fewer jobs than in January 2008.”
Wilkerson said manufacturing led Oklahoma’s job growth, rising 5.1 percent, or nearly 7,000 jobs, from last year’s level. He said trade, transportation and utility firms also posted solid job gains.
“Energy employment has declined slightly in recent months, but still remains above year-ago levels,” he said. “Construction employment continued to decline from a year ago although at a slightly lower rate, and jobs were also lost in education, health services, information and federal government sectors. Employment in most other Oklahoma industries grew at a generally solid rate.”
Wilkerson also states that the State’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in October. Tulsa saw an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent due to in job growth in professional services, hospitality and leisure.
According to Wilkerson, Counties in the northwest part of state have less than three percent. Comanche County currently faces a 6.5 percent unemployment rate.
“A number of long-term factors likely contribute to these differences in unemployment rates,” Wilkerson said. “In particular, out-migration rates could differ across parts of the state, with people in some areas more willing to move to other areas to take jobs.”
The reason these rates are different is also because Oklahoma has shifted its domestic energy drilling from natural gas to oil. As of November 2012 most of the state was drilling for oil in or around the counties that now currently have a low unemployment rate.
“Oil drilling remained strong, and the decline in natural gas rigs has slowed somewhat, he said. “Oil prices have remained at profitable levels, while natural gas prices still remain below the level that most producers cite as profitable.”
Wilkerson also predicts that natural gas prices will remain relatively low, but will increase in the coming year.
As of 2011, manufacturing made up of 8.3 percent of the total employment in Oklahoma. The states manufacturing growth has even outpaced the United States since the recovery from the recession began. In October the state added 3,000 factory jobs but it’s still 14,000 away from pre-recession levels.
If you want to know more about Oklahoma’s economic state and want to see all the graphs and charts you can find the full article at http://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/oke/oe-4q-2012.pdf.