It may be stating the obvious, but just in case you didn’t know, Oklahoma is in the midst of a torrid energy boom, this time from natural gas instead of oil.
The latest income numbers from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis spell it out in stark terms.
Since 2001, total income from jobs in Oklahoma’s energy sector has grown 125 percent. Put another way, those in the energy sector earned a collective $3.67 billion in 2001. By 2006, that figure had leapt to $8.26 billion–or roughly 12 percent of all income earned by those employed in Oklahoma businesses.
That’s as employment in what the government calls the Mining (oil and natural gas in these parts) sector grew to more than 70,000 in Oklahoma in 2006, up from 57,400 in 2001. And local energy companies continue to add jobs in the state.
On the other side of the coin, the state’s manufacturing sector lost almost 20,000 jobs from 2001 to 2006. Still, the jobs that are left tend to pay fairly well. Earnings in the manufacturing sector rose to $12.9 billion in 2006, up from $11.1 billion in 2001. Manufacturing jobs still account for almost $1 of every $5 earned by Oklahomans in the private sector.
More broadly, the bureau said per capita personal income in Oklahoma stood at $32,391 in 2006, an increase of 24 percent since 2001. Good news, certainly, but remember, they arrive at that number by dividing the total amount of income earned in the state by the number of people in the state. Since it’s such a broad measure, it includes the high and low incomes across all industries in the state.
The BEA’s measure of per capita income is just one of several used by government, academic and private sector economists. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey uses “money income” to figure its per capita income. That tends to result in a lower figure because it excludes employer contributions to pensions or insurance, and excludes government programs such as Medicaid or Medicare. (For a detailed explanation, click here.)
Some groups, such as Tulsa’s Community Action Project argue the income gains in Oklahoma–by whatever measure–are not being shared by all.
Drilling down into the BEA data by county also shows a very different picture of Oklahoma’s personal income growth from 2001 to 2006. Metro areas such as Oklahoma City and Tulsa show the highest growth; rural counties in the western half of the state post the lowest growth.
Of course, this is all in the past. The detailed, local 2007 numbers aren’t out yet, and none of these numbers reflects the current conditions in the Oklahoma economy, where consumers are dealing with higher gasoline and food prices.
Still, the broad economic indicators point to a more favorable picture here than in other parts of the country, especially those coastal areas where home price appreciation was the fastest. For more, check out The Oklahoman’s story from last Sunday.
You can also read Oklahoma State University’s latest Economic Outlook. (PDF link) In part, it said:
Our outlook for 2008 and 2009 remains basically
unchanged – that limited spillover from housing, a
smaller sub-prime concern, and the boost from high
energy prices will reduce the risk for the state in the
slowdown. We continue to believe that the primary
risk remains the indirect influence of slowing
However, the state is not immune to national
economic conditions and they have deteriorated
slightly faster and more deeply than anticipated in
our initial 2008 outlook.
To explore more from the BEA’s Regional Economic Accounts data, just click here.
It’s been more than a week since a computer security blogger first pointed out that the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Sex Offender Registry had a few security flaws, to put it charitably.
The Oklahoman‘s Julie Bisbee followed up on the blog post last Wednesday, with assurances from the department’s spokesman that all the problems had been fixed.
But the finger pointing continues in the comments section of the original blog. Judging by a few of the comments, several people who worked (or still work) in IT for the department are blaming their managers and the department in general:
In the spring of 2001 work on the Sex Offender Registry, a federally mandated and funded project, was begun. The rules in place at the time did not allow DOC to hire staff to build the system, so they outsourced the job to a less-than-entirely-legitimate consulting firm. The contract programmer who wrote the SOR had never worked in the development environment that was used. He had no real knowledge of database design or of Internet security. For that matter, the original statement of work for the project does not mention security.
Pre-Y2K, Internet security was (comparatively) in its infancy. We know for a fact that members of the DOC IT staff ASKED about security, but they were told that the issue was none of their business.
There’s no way to know if those are legitimate complaints or not, but a recent audit of the department (PDF link) pointed out several problems with its IT structure and management. The $1 million audit was requested by the Legislature in 2007 and done by a Texas-based corrections consulting firm, MGT of America Inc. Its main conclusion? The department is woefully underfunded by state government.
Starting on Section 7-29 (page 231 of the PDF), the audit faults the department for having a decentralized Information Technology Unit.
Management of IT functions resides in several different divisions, hampering coordination of services. The department’s core offender management information system is unreliable and requires significant upgrade or replacement. Ongoing planning and work on the internal development of a replacement for this system has been unsuccessful, leaving the department in an extremely vulnerable position.
The audit’s IT section doesn’t mention the publicly available Sex Offender registry Web site, but it does go on to detail the problems with the DOC’s internal databases.
Because of these issues, the agency is at a very critical point in its ability to effectively manage the offender population. The existing inmate database could fail at any time, leaving nothing to replace it. Staff would have to return to paper and pencil to manage and account for inmates and parolees. Any efficiencies that currently exist would disappear, increasing the demands on the state’s limited resources.
The Legislature recently approved some additional funds for the DOC for this fiscal year. But a budget agreement last week freezes spending for the 2009 fiscal year, so the IT changes for the department might have to wait.
Turns out you really can buy anything on eBay.
Including military items that were either stolen or slipped out of the Pentagon bureaucracy.
Officials from the Government Accountability Office* testified today (PDF link) to Congress how they found antennas from F-14 fighter jets; nuclear, chemical, biological gear; and body armor for sale on eBay and Craigslist.
Not exactly the kind of stuff you’d get from your friendly, neighborhood Army surplus store.
According to the GAO:
We found numerous defense-related items for sale to the highest bidder on eBay and Craigslist from January 2007 through March 2008. A review of eBay and Craigslist policies and procedures determined that, although these Web sites have taken steps to regulate their user communities and define items that are prohibited from sale, there are few safeguards to prevent sensitive and stolen defense-related items from being sold to either domestic or foreign users of these sites. During the period of our investigation, undercover investigators purchased a dozen sensitive items to demonstrate how easy it was to obtain them. The items were shipped to us “no questions asked.” Many of these items were stolen from the U.S. military.
It also notes this isn’t the first time that sensitive military components have shown up for sale on the Internet. The U.S. Attorney in Utah filed a complaint last year (PDF link) against two Utah men for selling F-14 parts on the Internet.
*Correction: In the original post, I mistakenly referred to the GAO by its old name, the General Accounting Office.