Thursday, December 27, 2007

Good Economic News to Start Second Century

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Happy New Year, everybody! As Oklahoma enters the first full year of its second century as a state, we received some very good news about our economy.

We learned last week that Oklahoma’s personal income grew faster than the national average during the third quarter of 2007. That increase was driven primarily by growth in the oil and gas industry, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

By driving around southern Oklahoma, you can see evidence of this good news in new drilling rigs and seismic crews all over the countryside. The result of the new gas exploration in our region is showing up in our state’s economy. We also see it with the creation of new energy jobs and the distribution of royalty checks across the area.

Oklahoma’s personal income grew 1.8 percent in the third quarter, topping the national rate of 1.4 percent. Oklahoma ranked fifth among the states in personal income growth for the third quarter. For a state whose income has lagged behind most of the nation, this is extraordinary news for our economic future.

The report showed that the largest increase in Oklahoma’s personal income came from the mining sector, which includes the oil and gas industry. The report noted that Oklahoma saw a 0.26-percent increase in that industry sector, compared to a national average of 0.03 percent.

That means the increase in personal income driven by the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma was more than eight times the national average. The good news, however, did not end with the energy industry.

The non-energy segments of the economy are performing like the national economy, and the energy boost gives Oklahoma additional economic strength. Of course, Oklahoma is a ship of state that has always floated on a sea of oil and gas, and the energy industry always has been a pillar of the state’s economy.

But now, Oklahoma’s economy is more diversified since the oil bust of the late 1980s. That means if the energy boost to the economy weakens, we are in a much better position to withstand any future downturn.

Emphasizing that point, the report showed that Oklahoma’s personal income growth also outpaced the national average in the farm, government, utilities, nondurable goods manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade and transportation and warehousing sectors. The entire economy is working together to create new jobs and new opportunity.

Economic reports are not about numbers; they are about families, and the ability of families to meet their needs. We must continue our efforts to make Oklahoma’s economy the best it can be. Our challenge is to create and strengthen an economy in which every Oklahoma family can prosper, and in which dreams for a brighter future can come true for us all.

Thanks again for reading the "Senate Minute," Happy New Year, and may God bless you all.

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