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Employment in state expected to grow about 1%


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _Job growth statewide was only 0.44% last year, but that was still enough for Oklahoma to rank 11th in the nation, and employment in Oklahoma is expected to grow about 1% this year, according to an economic outlook from Oklahoma State University.

Just 20 states recorded job gains from November 2001 to November 2002.

``Because the nation experienced a sharper recession than the state, they'll have a sharper return,'' said OSU economist Mark Snead, one of the report's authors. ``But there's no reason to believe the nation will outperform the state this year.''

Snead said national job growth is projected to be 0.93% in 2003, slightly lower than Oklahoma's 1% gain.

The economists had originally projected Oklahoma's employment would grow 0.73% when the first edition of the 2003 State of Oklahoma Forecast came out in November.

State manufacturers and the energy industry will continue to lose jobs in 2003, the report said. Manufacturing has lost jobs for the last four years, but that is expected to bottom out this year as manufacturing nationwide starts to recover, Snead said.

Oklahoma City's economy will continue to perform well, with job growth projected at 1.2%, the report said.

President Richard Burpee of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce said a new plant by printing company Quad Graphics and upcoming announcements by two companies for call centers has officials optimistic about 2003.

``The fact that they're coming means Oklahoma City is on a lot of people's radar screens,'' Burpee said. ``We've got momentum in our city and it's going to continue.''

Tulsa is also expected to outperform the nation. Growth is projected at 1% for 2003, with most of that coming from jobs in the service industry.
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