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.
Written by Paul Monies