By Andrew Knittle
The Norman Transcript
An economist speaking at the annual Sooner Centurion Economic Summit on Tuesday in Norman said Cleveland Countys economy is faring better than the rest of the state.
Robert Dauffenbach, director of Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma, revealed a sales tax collection chart that showed Cleveland Countys revenues rebounding more quickly from the Great Recession, which began in late 2008.
In addition to recovering faster from the recession, Dauffenbach said Cleveland County wasnt hit as hard as the rest of the state. The chart showed the countys sales tax revenues declined less than 3 percent during the height of the recession, collectively, while the rest of the states figures dropped by nearly 10 percent during the same time frame.
Not that Oklahoma is doing all that bad.
Dauffenbach also said that the states unemployment rate is currently lower than most of the nation and that job growth in the Oklahoma City metro area, which Norman is a part of, is outpacing Tulsa, the state and the U.S.
On the whole, he said the Sooner State is weathering the storm well.
Oklahoma is doing better than the (rest of) the nation, but it is still tied to national trends, Dauffenbach said.
Dauffenbach said the national economy is stable but continues to be weak and vulnerable, mainly because of high unemployment, the still-lagging housing market, high levels of debt and ever-rising health care costs.
He also said there is evidence of structural unemployment, when there is a disconnect between the labor markets demands and the skills of local workers looking for jobs.
As expected, economic development was a hot topic of discussion.
Gov. Mary Fallin, who spoke during the event, said shed do whatever she could to foster a healthier business climate in Oklahoma.
If I can help you close the deal, make a phone call, visit someone or host someone, Ill do it, Fallin said, adding that attracting new companies and retaining existing ones is key to sustained growth in the state. Thats how were going to get Oklahomas economy back on track and, frankly, provide revenue for essential services.
Sooner Centurions are the fundraising arm of the Norman Chamber of Commerce and each one pays $1,000 annually to support the Norman Economic Development Coalition. The event hosted Tuesday was at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Norman.