Manufacturing, Oil Top Oklahoma's Economic Profile

Article excerpt

General Motors' announcement in late 2005 of the planned closing of its Oklahoma City plant continued a trend of manufacturing jobs leaving the state and topped the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s quarterly list of highlights for Oklahoma.

Rising energy prices nationwide have been spurring a growing demand for workers in Oklahoma's petroleum industry, which may mitigate some of the manufacturing losses, the FDIC reported in its executive summary of economic trends. But those energy prices carry a penalty of their own because they're constraining consumer spending in general.

Twenty years ago, the level of diversity was an issue. And many of the oil-dependent states - Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma - were victimized by their high degree of involvement with the energy business. When the prices fell, a lot of jobs were lost and we suffered trauma, FDIC analyst Alan C. Bush said from the Dallas regional office. Oklahoma has learned from the bust era, though, and has been largely successful in diversifying away from that and into other manufacturing jobs and high-tech, distribution and tourism.

Now that we see oil back in the very attractive range - those types of jobs are starting to open back up. But I expect that there is more of a cautionary approach to it, he said. Petroleum companies are more reluctant to hire excessively, he said, and more likely to streamline operations.

The FDIC reported that as of the third quarter of 2005, about three in five states nationwide had recovered all their jobs lost in the recession of 2001. Oklahoma is about 10,800 jobs short of its employment peak of 2001. The FDIC expects a new employment peak early this year.

The severity of Oklahoma's recent recession was largely attributable to manufacturing job losses, more so than most other states, Bush said. …