OSU Economist Forecasts Lower Oklahoma City, Tulsa Job Outlook

Article excerpt

New federal employment data will spur a downward revision of the Oklahoma State University economic projections for Oklahoma City and Tulsa, economist Mark Snead said Wednesday.

However, the director of OSU's Center for Applied Economic Research said the outlook for those cities and the state remain above national projections.

That marks something of a reversal from stands Snead took just a month ago, when he maintained his projection of state growth even as he questioned doomsayers on whether the national economy was even heading toward recession.

But Snead said Tuesday's revised data from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, along with increased concern over credit issues and soaring oil prices, made soothsaying extremely difficult in today's economy.

"Either I'm going to become a blackjack dealer or an oil and gas worker," he joked before Wednesday's Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors 2008 Greater Tulsa Commercial Market Update. "Either option's brighter than being an economist at the moment."

Snead said actual revisions from the OSU center may not emerge for a couple of weeks. But he estimated his November projections of 1.5-percent job growth for both Tulsa and Oklahoma City in 2008, and 1.3-percent growth for the state, could drop below 1 percent.

His estimates for 2009 also could take a hit.

Snead said the state still would exceed national trends, its fundamentals strong, with little evidence of the national housing crisis penetrating the Oklahoma market. Even in the face of souring national news, Snead said Oklahoma consumer confidence illustrated resilience, with retail sales rising 7 percent.

"Those are historically strong numbers," he said.

He suggested the state's manufacturing sector, driven by the energy industry, could be on the verge of a long-term resurgence over the next decade. …