Economy on steady recovery path, report finds
According to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s 2018 Economic Forecast, the Oklahoma City metro economy is now on a steady recovery path, ushering in a period of growth after a slight downturn in the oil and gas sector. Oklahoma City returned to positive job growth in 2017 with about 6,900 jobs, or 1.1 percent job growth, being added during the year.
In 2018, Oklahoma City metro job growth is expected to continue this momentum and grow by 1.4 percent, or 9,100 jobs. If national economic conditions continue to be positive, there is the potential for local job gains to be even higher by the end of 2018.
“The diversification of Oklahoma City’s economy was key to how our region recovered from declining oil prices,” said Kurt Foreman, executive vice president of economic development at the Chamber. “With Oklahoma City’s key industries exhibiting signs of strength, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the potential for continued growth in 2018.”
The Oklahoma City metro ended 2017 with an annual average unemployment rate for the year of 3.9 percent, with monthly unemployment rates ranging as low as 3.3 percent and as high 4.4 percent. Since 2010, the Oklahoma City MSA population has continued to grow at a pace twice that of the nation. It is through that continued growth that the Oklahoma City metro enjoyed its largest labor force in history in 2017, with more than 677,000 workers located in the area.
Chamber-assisted companies announced plans for the creation of 4,175 jobs with an annual average salary of $49,064 during the year. Those same companies also announced more than $237 million in capital investment.
Outlook for 2018
The trajectory of the state’s economy turned early in 2017 with strength building through the end of the year. General economic strength is expected to continue into and through 2018 with the state’s economy as measured by real gross state product growing by 3.6 percent. Growth in 2018 will return the state’s economy to the $180 billion level established in 2015. Sustained growth through the end of the year will leave the state approaching a $200 billion economy.
With its location along the fast-growing I-35 corridor, geography will continue to favor Oklahoma City in the years ahead with these same market forces slowly moving toward Tulsa. As the state’s two primary metro areas become increasingly connected, the state’s economic fortunes will be increasingly determined by what happens in these two cities. Partially due to Oklahoma City’s location and its investment in the urban core, Oklahoma City population growth rates are expected to approach a 2 percent annual rate in the long run, offering both economic opportunities and development challenges for the city.
Oklahoma City’s economic transition is combining high-income positions and low-wage jobs to support the city’s population growth. The combined effect is consistent growth in per capita personal income. Per capita income is estimated to have grown by 2.5 percent in 2017 to $45,775. Baseline expectations look for per capita income to approach $48,000 in 2019 after growing at a 2.1 percent rate in 2018 and 2.2 percent pace in 2019.