Job Growth In Energy And Local Government Sectors

Thursday, September 13th 2007, 9:36 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Fueled mostly by new jobs in the energy and local government sectors, Oklahoma's job market grew faster than the rest of the nation after the end of the recession in 2003, new research shows. Oklahoma added more than 96,000 jobs from 2003 to 2006, an average annual growth rate of 2.2%.

That figure compared to national employment growth of 1.6% annually during the same period, Oklahoma State University economists Mark Snead and Suzette Barta said in a report released Wednesday.

Still, the state's recovery was uneven both geographically and by industry, the report said.

A new category of areas called ``micropolitans'' _ population centers with between 10,000 and 50,000 people _ posted better growth rates than the state's three metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton. Meanwhile, growth in counties with less than 5,000 people was lackluster, especially in the western half of the state.

``These satellite cities around the state have shown remarkable strength from manufacturing and energy; they're just healthy in general,'' Snead said. ``But the true rural areas are not particularly competitive.''

Durant in Bryan County has been one of the leaders in micropolitan growth. In the last three years, employment in the southern border county has grown by 20 percent, or 2,600 jobs.

The OSU research found that job growth in mining _ which includes oil and gas activity _ and local government fared well in the recovery, posting double-digit increases. Mining added 13,100 jobs during the period, a growth rate of 45.7 percent. Local government grew by 20,100 jobs, or 12.2 percent.

The increase in local government employment was likely driven by the boom in Indian casinos across Oklahoma, Snead said, because most tribal employment is categorized in the local government sector.