Economic health of Green County and sister regions

The heart of Green Country, Tulsa, boasts of being ranked the No.1 place to live by Relocate America.

This list of top 100 places to live is compiled on the basis of housing markets, local economy, and recreational and cultural activities that determine decisions of  house buyers as well as sellers.
For the region, this has become a great selling point.

It is important for Tulsans to comprehend the numerous factors behind such rankings as the performance of Tulsa’s local economy in recent times has exceeded general expectations of people.

In the past five to seven years, the local economy had done better than the state of Oklahoma and the nation as a whole.

A comparison can be made between Tulsa MSA (metropolitan statistical area) and similar size MSAs with comparable populations.

Across the country, Dayton (OH), Albany(NY), Fresno (CA), Albuquerque (NM) and Honolulu (HI) have comparable population numbers (between 837,000 and 917,000) as Tulsa.

Therefore, these regions may be considered as ‘sister regions’ as far as population goes.

These regions may vary as far as their labor force characteristics and work culture are concerned.  Nevertheless, as the classical economists like to phrase ‘with everything else being constant or equal,’ what follows is an interesting as well as insightful comparison of the economic health of these regions.

Here’s a look at the annual percentage change in total employment and personal income between 2001 and 2007 for these regions.

Tulsa MSA experienced a 41 percent increase in personal income and a 7 percent increase in total employment as against 34 percent and 9 percent in case of the whole nation.  Tulsa MSA also outperformed all its sister regions and stood strong in comparison to the state’s numbers.

Another benchmark comparison is between the GDP# growth rates.  Tulsa’s annual GDP growth rates have constantly been higher than that of the US since the middle of 2003.

More surprisingly, Oklahoma City’s growth rates experienced a steep fall between 2004 and 2005 exactly at the time when Tulsa experienced a steep rise. Here again, we see that Tulsa outperforms all its sister regions.

Local unemployment rates have consistently been the lowest in Tulsa among the neighboring areas- Lawton and Oklahoma City.  Even when unemployment was shooting up nationally during 2007 and 2008, Tulsa maintained its lowest unemployment rates in almost five years.

All of these above are economic factors that contribute to the attractiveness of a region.  Besides, Tulsa is home to the performing arts center, ballet and arenas that host a multitude of shows that attract tourists from nearby regions.

It is all these factors combined with the overall quality of life that contributes to Tulsa being the No.1 place to relocate.

This also points to the fact our local region has not been as adversely impacted by the current economic times.

This year our economy has seen the worst financial times since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Government is floating stimulus money to all states.  There are two categories of the federal Government spending:

1. Social spending that includes spending on

– Education
– Housing and Urban Development
– Health
– Crime Fighting
– Job Training
– Arts
– Food and Farming

2. Infrastructure spending that includes spending on

– Transportation
– Water
– Energy
– Military
– Veteran Spending
– Government
– Outdoors
– Emergency Shelters

The largest portion of the federal stimulus money is expected to go towards education and transportation ($113.6 billion).  The second largest portion will be spent on housing and urban development, health and energy ($55.0 billion).

The state of Oklahoma will receive about $2.35 billion in Government stimulus money.  About 62 percent of this money will be spent on education and transportation while 19 percent will be spent in the health care and energy sectors.

A lot is going on in the energy sector and it is encouraging to see money being invested into higher education for training aspiring technicians and engineers in this sector.

Recently, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce was awarded $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a wind technician safety curriculum to be designed and implemented with the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education.

The Department of Energy report says "Oklahoma has the potential to become the second-largest wind energy producer, providing almost 10 percent of the nation’s electricity needs by 2030."

The Department of Commerce expects the state’s emerging wind industry to create 7,000 jobs over the next five years and up to 18,000 jobs within 10 years, with a significant portion of them occurring in Oklahoma’s advanced manufacturing sector.

This size of direct spending in the region will not only create direct jobs but also a substantial number of indirect jobs, and increased household earnings.

Every dollar spent has a ripple effect on the economy not just within the impacted region but also on the neighboring regions.

When new jobs are created a region’s attractiveness increases manifold and subsequently new businesses start looking at it as a place of destination.

Business interactions, as we know, transverse regional and economic boundaries.

It remains to be seen how Green Country will benefit from this spending and also whether or not the spending areas have been targeted precisely.

Only time will tell.

An economic impact analysis of this spending could be performed, but at the moment it is beyond the scope of this article.

Nevertheless, it is a topic of future research and this series of articles may address it in subsequent issues.

About the author
The author welcomes comments and suggestions on the article as well as requests for topics for future articles.  The author may be contacted at

Learn more about Ananta by reading her biography.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 August 2009 )