View Full Version : Strong employment growth in OKC metro

08-08-2007, 07:19 AM
Wed August 8, 2007
Q&A with Roy Williams

Q: The latest job figures show extremely strong employment growth, around 3 percent, in the Oklahoma City metro area in the first six months of the year. What's behind this, and will it last?

A: From June 2006 to June 2007, the Oklahoma City metro area added 17,700 new nonfarm jobs, representing a 3.1 percent increase. Every employment sector of the metro showed an increase, from a low of 1 percent to a high of 12.5 percent. Our metro economy continues to show strength, growth and solid momentum. Our economy is now highly diversified, reflecting more the national economy. This in turn provides economic stability, and coupled with strong growth in natural resources and mining, education and health services, leisure and hospitality and other services including information and financial activities, our economy is outperforming both the Oklahoma and national economies. We see nothing on the horizon that would indicate that this economic performance should slow.

Q: The Oklahoma City economy was expected to be hit hard by the closures of the GM and Dayton Tire plants last year. Are the full effects of those closures being felt yet, or will they take a little longer to show up in the data?

A: We did anticipate some negative effect from the closures of GM and Dayton. However, most all of those employees have moved into other positions, and the impact has been almost unnoticeable in terms of statistics. The strength of our economy not only absorbed those losses, but also grew significantly in spite of them.

Q: You mentioned earlier this year the pipeline of business locations and announcements was as full as it's ever been. Can you give us any hints about what's to come?

A: Recent local existing business surveys indicate 50 percent have expansion plans over the next three years, in addition to 54 percent who reported employment needs. These expansion plans represent companies in all employment sectors, as do the pipeline of prospects that we continually develop. While we continue to get a healthy number of manufacturing prospects, we also get significant traffic from service industries, including financial services, information technology, etc. The aviation and aerospace cluster, the bioscience cluster and the hospitality cluster are all strong prospect providers.

Q: The Chamber released data showing economic growth in the Oklahoma City area from 2001 to 2005 surpassed percentage gains by the national economy and several larger cities such as San Antonio; Nashville, Tenn.; and Kansas City, Mo. What are some of the reasons for that?

A: Our economic growth is outpacing a number of our peer cities. While we have not studied those economies in depth, I would venture to guess this is a result of the momentum Oklahoma City has developed over recent years. We have had substantial economic impact recently from the hospitality industry (equine shows, athletic events, convention growth, hotel growth, etc.), from the energy industry (Devon, Chesapeake, SandRidge, etc.), from the bioscience industry (growth at the entire health center complex and medical complexes across the metro area) and from the overall service sector. All of this has happened in a relatively short period of time, thus the effect has been dramatic and put our growth rate over that of many peer cities.

Q: Is this recent growth helping everybody across the city, or is it limited to specific industries and pockets? In other words, are there some weak spots you're concerned about?

A: Our job growth is occurring in every sector of our economy, thus it is touching people completely across the region. There are no isolated pockets growing at the expense of other areas. When quality jobs are being created and the Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) is growing at the rate it is today, the entire economy is positively impacted. We do not see any weak components of our economy and we do not see any lingering, potential future problems such as overbuilding in the residential, commercial or industrial sectors. The future appears very positive.

08-08-2007, 07:42 PM
I was pleasantly surprised by the total number of new jobs added within a year in the OKC metro. The fact that the closing of GM and DAYTON have not had a negative impact on our economy tells me that our city is enjoying strong economic growth that, quite frankly, appears to be a trend for the foreseeable future. It looks like OKC is definitely the next breakthrough city that everyone around the country will be talking positively about in the next several years. I don't think it's too far-fetched to say that our city is the next Charlotte or Austin the way things are coming together. There just seems to be a huge synergy going on and it is definitely showing up everywhere you look around the city. Now, if we can just land Piper and it's 1500 jobs, plus a few new major corporations and we are set.:)