By Lou Anne Wolfe
Journal Record Staff Reporter
Oklahoma City's general business index for the third quarter
ended Sept. 30 grew 1.3 percent compared with the third quarter
of 1991, Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. reported Monday.
The metro area business index was up 0.6 percent from the
The statewide general business index rose 0.6 percent,
compared with the 1991 third quarter, but fell 0.2 percent from
the second quarter, the report said.
Tulsa's index rose 1.3 percent compared with the 1991 third
quarter, but fell 0.2 percent from the second quarter.
The general business index, compiled by Bell and the Center
for Economic and Management Research at the University of
Oklahoma, is comprised of six economic sectors. During the third
quarter, economic activity in half the sectors increased
statewide, while activity decreased in the other half, the report
Real estate, general and consumer demand sectors posted gains,
while agriculture, energy and manufacturing declined.
In the Oklahoma City metro area, the consumer demand, general
and real estate subsectors posted over-the-year gains, while the
energy and manufacturing subsectors declined.
"Oklahoma City continues to grow, although the growth
tendencies are beginning to weaken," wrote Bell staff economist
"With over 23 percent of its workforce in the government
sector, the metro Oklahoma City economy will no doubt suffer from
Gov. Walters' recent announcement of employment freezes and
Walters this month ordered all state agencies to implement an
immediate hiring freeze on "non-critical" hiring and purchasing,
estimated to reduce the state payroll by 500 to 1,000 full-time
Government and services employment had been a primary
contributor to Oklahoma City's ability to generate net new job
growth over the past five years, the report said.
"If the governor's statements take effect in 1993, Oklahoma
City will have to rely on its more diversified economic base to
generate the type of job growth necessary to produce a seventh
consecutive year of overall economic growth," wrote Knutson.
Addressing the state index, Knutson said that while slow
growth was better than no growth, "the state's economy has much
less vitality than previously forecasted. Including last year's
performance, 1992 will be the second consecutive year of
Meanwhile, Tulsa's slight decline from the second quarter was
only the fourth one since the first quarter of 1988, the report
said. With manufacturing employment representing 17 percent of
Tulsa's employment base, the 4 percent employment decline in the
third quarter was a significant contributor to Tulsa's weak
"While Tulsa's economy is almost 7 percent ahead of where it
was three years ago, the rate of growth has declined
significantly," Knutson said.
While Oklahoma continues to outperform the nation relative to
unemployment rates, the state underperforms the nation in
employment growth rates, he said. Year-over-year changes in wage
and salary employment continue to run negative statewide. Through
October, Oklahoma had posted nine monthly declines in the past 12
months, he said.
"Without growth in employment, then personal income, general
revenues and retail activity are bound to suffer. Year-to-date
performances for all three of these indicators support that
contention," Knutson said.
Oklahoma's retail activity has been relatively strong,
compared even with national trends, he said.
In September, TeleCheck Services of Houston reported that
Oklahoma led in retail sales in the region that includes Texas,
Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas, with an 8.5 percent rise from
"However, as we close out the fourth quarter, that same
company reports that retail sales `continue to lag in Oklahoma
entering the third full week of the 1992 holiday shopping
season,' " Knutson said. …