Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma State University Economist: Owasso Growth to Slow, but Not Stop

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma State University Economist: Owasso Growth to Slow, but Not Stop

Article excerpt

Owasso will achieve positive growth in jobs, retail sales and population even in the face of a national recession, according to Oklahoma State University economist Mark Snead.

The numbers will not match double-digit annual hikes enjoyed since 2003, Snead told a packed audience during Friday's 2009 Owasso Economic Summit at the Bailey Medical Center. However, he still thought that performance to be remarkable for a hyper-growth suburb lacking an economic engine in either of the state's two strongest pillars - energy and tribal business.

"Do not think Owasso is recession-proof," said the director of the OSU Spears School of Business Center for Applied Economic Research. "No high-growth suburb is. But this is the worst-case scenario for Owasso - which is a best-case scenario for much of the rest of the country. And in its worst-case scenario, Owasso is still going to see growth this year."

In making his first economic forecast for an Oklahoma suburb, Snead forecast the northern Tulsa community will record 1-percent job growth this year, after an estimated 7.7-percent rise in 2008.

Wage and salary income should beat that, climbing 3.7 percent in 2009. Snead estimated it rose 12.8 percent in 2008, down from 16.3 percent in 2007.

Owasso's population should climb 4.3 percent this year to 28,760, mimicking growth rates seen the past two years.

"Most cities would love to have just one year of 4-percent growth," he said.

Taxable retail sales should increase 2.3 percent this year, down from 7.3 percent in '08 and 7.5 percent in '07.

"My best suggestion is that you're probably nearing a bottom," he said. "You will be roughly as strong as any other sector in the state in 2009. I would call that growth in any other environment in '09."

Owasso's resilience, building on two decades of growth, parallels the economic strength Snead sees in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and the state as a whole, each one showing continued job, personal income and retail sales growth in the face of the national recession.

"My guess is that at the next revising, Oklahoma's job numbers will be even stronger," said Snead. "We are far outperforming the nation. We are adding jobs at a frantic pace."

Snead marveled even more at state retail sales continuing to climb at an annual growth rate of 8 to 9 percent.

"I think most of the answer is energy," he said. "I think the other half of that answer is energy."

Since World War II, Snead said all but one national recession has revolved around an energy price spike - which explains why Oklahoma's economy rode through all but the 1980s with little or no job losses. …

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