State Economy Remains Strong, Job Gains Moderating Along

Job growth in the Tulsa Metro has slowed from the 3 percent gains in hiring 2005 and 2006, said Mark Snead, director of the Center for Applied Economic Research and a research economist with the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University.
Tulsa County gained 10,976 jobs in 2006, 15 percent more than Oklahoma County. Osage County, with 4.0 percent growth, was the fastest growing component of the Tulsa Metro.

Tulsa County alone generated 25 percent of the new wage and salary jobs statewide last year, Snead said in his mid-year report.
While some hiring weakness persists in the leisure and hospitality sectors and in government, Tulsa’s economy will still generate 5,500 new jobs this year, he said.
“Our current forecast calls for a job gain of 1.3 percent for 2007,” Snead said. “Most major industry sectors are adding jobs including energy, construction and manufacturing.”
“Tulsa’s current annual job growth rates through June are hovering around 1.5 percent as the region cools from the recovery bounce and moves back toward its long-run sustainable growth rate,” Snead said.

Energy Boost
The rural areas of the state continue to benefit from strong oil and gas activity and a bounce in the manufacturing sector, with 62 of the state’s 77 counties posting job gains in 2006, the report said.
Wage and salary job gains through June are summarized at right across 20 industrial sectors and governments.
Rural counties with a large oil and gas presence dominate the job gain rankings for 2006.

Major Sectors Up
While many major industry sectors are adding jobs, energy continued booming at a 9.8 percent rate. Transportation and warehousing was next, growing at a 2.9 percent. Construction grew at 2.4 percent and “other” grew at 2.2 percent. Manufacturing grew grew at 1.3 percent.
Some hiring weakness persists in the leisure and hospitality sectors and in government.

State Growth
Year-over-year job growth rates in Oklahoma continue to ease — as expected — and are hovering in the 1.5 percent range, Snead said.
The latest data release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics covers the first half of 2007 and confirms that trend in job growth has declined to roughly half the 3 percent rate enjoyed 18 months ago.
Oklahoma City metro area job growth has been the surprise through the first half of 2007, Snead said. Annual job growth rates have approached 3 percent.
“Given the underlying strength in the labor market, our full-year 2007 forecast calls for a 2.4 percent gain, or 13,900 new jobs,” he said. “The gains are broad based and reflect continued strength in energy, signs of hiring in non-durable manufacturing, and strong job gains in arts, entertainment and food service and drinking places.”
Statewide, the financial services and state government sectors are the only areas of hiring weakness.
Nationally, job growth has also trended downward from 2 percent to a reported 1.5 percent annual rate.
However, given the ongoing boost to the state from energy and the recent round of upward revisions to 2006 state job growth, it is likely that the state is still outpacing the nation in job gains and that the current state job numbers understate actual job growth, the report said.
The national economic backdrop for the state remains unchanged — relatively high-energy prices, soft housing and construction markets, and a Federal Reserve concerned with inflation. ?

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