Oklahoma economic activity during the first quarter ended March
31 was up 0.7 percent from the first quarter of 1990, and
additional gains are forecast for the second quarter, according to
the General Business Index report released Thursday by Southwestern
Bell Telephone Co.
In Oklahoma City, first-quarter economic activity was up 2.7
percent from the first quarter of 1990 and up 1.6 percent from the
previous quarter, the 1990 fourth quarter.
"Oklahoma should continue its `slow growth' trends of the past
four years," said Craig Knutson, staff economist for Southwestern
"While many complain of our anemic growth rates over the past
four years, it is critical to remember that economic restructuring,
which is an evolutionary process, takes time." Tulsa's economic
activity was up 0.6 percent from the first quarter of 1990 but
dropped 0.1 percent from the previous quarter, the report said.
The General Business Index, produced by Southwestern Bell and
the University of Oklahoma, tracks the activity of 25 economic
variables each quarter.
Knutson said the first quarter was mired with uncertainty.
"The (Persian) Gulf crisis, which thankfully was short-lived,
was the primary culprit in plunging the United States into its
first recession in almost eight years," he said.
A survey of 35 national economists by USA Today newspaper,
however, showed that 63 percent believe the recession ended in the
second quarter, Knutson said.
Of the six subsectors used in the index to analyze the state's
economic condition, three posted gains and three declined.
The manufacturing subsector grew 4.7 percent in the first
quarter, the report said.
Oklahoma manufacturing employment was up 0.8 percent from the
first quarter of 1990, while the nation's manufacturing employment
base was down by 800,000 jobs or 4 percent.
In the near-term, the Oklahoma manufacturing sector should
continue its slow improvement in employment and earnings growth,
Led by increases in wage and salary employment, bank net
income, services employment and personal income, the general
subsector was up 0.7 percent from the 1990 first quarter, the
Bankruptcies, unemployment and the bank stock index all moved
"In an economy that continues to move more sideways than up and
down, it is common to find indicators canceling one another,"
Knutson said. "The `two steps forward, one step back' approach to
economic growth does require
patience and perseverance." The construction subsector showed
the largest decline, down 3.2 percent compared to the first quarter
of 1990. All four indicators in the subsector were negative, the
"The first quarter was devastating for the construction
industry, with starts and permits falling precipitously," Knutson
"The only positive sign being reported was that the remodeling
market was booming, due primarily to our inability to sell what we