OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma has improved its national ranking in per capita personal income but still lags behind much of the rest of the nation, according to state Finance Director Tom Daxon.
Daxon also said the gap between Oklahoma and other states is at its widest point in recent years.
Preliminary numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis indicate that Oklahoma's per capita personal income stands at 79.95 percent of the national average, or an average of $5,717 less than other Americans, Daxon said.
"Once again, Oklahoma finds itself falling further behind the rest of the country," Daxon said Thursday.
Per capita personal income in Oklahoma increased $837 from 1998 to 1999, from $21,964 to $22,801. But nationally, per capita personal income grew by $1,315, from $27,203 to $28,518.
Oklahoma ranks 44th in the nation in per capita personal income, one spot higher than 1998, Daxon said. The state's growth rate of 3.81 percent was 43rd in the nation and last in Oklahoma's seven-state region, he said.
"Although we managed to improve our ranking by one spot, I am concerned that Oklahoma again experienced a growth rate in 1999 that was less than the national rate," Daxon said. "We had hoped or and expected more in light of the state's extremely low unemployment rate."
When the numbers are adjusted for cost of living differences, Oklahoma's per capita personal income increases to $24,714 or 86.7 percent of the national average, earning the state a ranking of 40th but still about $3,804 less than the national average.
"Many of the states top economists acknowledge that we don't have an employment problem, but that what we have is an incomegeneration problem," Daxon said.
"The question is what are we going to do about it?"
Daxon said Gov. Frank Keating has proposed a series of tax relief measures, infrastructure improvements and education reforms to address Oklahoma's low per capita personal income.