Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Economic Prospects Decline

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Economic Prospects Decline

Article excerpt

By Nancy Raiden Titus

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Metropolitan Oklahoma City's economic prospects for 1993 are dimming in the wake of a state government hiring freeze that threatens the strongest job growth sector, according to the General Business Index produced by Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. staff economist Craig Knutson.

The report noted that more than 23 percent of the metro Oklahoma City workforce is in the government sector.

"Along with services employment, the government sector has been a primary contributor to Oklahoma City's ability to generate net new job growth over the past five years," the report released Friday said.

The hiring freeze was initiated by Gov. David Walters in December.

"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."

Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa reported their seventh consecutive year of overall economic growth.

The General Business Index included data for the fourth quarter of 1992. It is compiled by Bell and the Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City showed a much larger increase in economic activity for 1992 with growth of 3.1 percent, compared with 1991. The fourth quarter also saw a 1.1 percent increase from the third quarter.

"Oklahoma City has posted some significant gains over the past three years, but much of the current data suggests the economy is beginning to weaken."

Economic prospects for Oklahoma as a whole also were anemic. The state ended 1992 with the weakest annual economic performance since 1986 and without the prospect of a healthy 1993.

"Preliminary data and the forecasted values for 1993 suggest a very weak start to the new year," Knutson said.

"Unfortunately, until Oklahoma makes itself more attractive to outside investment capital, we will continue our pattern of slow growth."

The state had growth of only 0.6 percent during 1992, compared with 1991.

"If you look back over 10 years and compare the economic base of Oklahoma over that time period, there is no question that Oklahoma has been truly diversifying its economic base. …

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