Energy Prices Could Temper OK’s Economic Expansion

  • Joe Wertz

Oklahoma’s economy should continue to grow, but the expansion could be restrained by the price of natural gas and oil, Oklahoma State University economist and professor Dan Rickman said Tuesday.

Rickman spoke at the 2012 Oklahoma Economic Outlook Conference, which was hosted by OSU’s Spears School of Business. The full text of the economic forecasts are available here.

The size of the state’s energy sector has helped drive its economy faster than other states, Rickman said, reported The Oklahoman’s Don Mecoy:

The state’s moderate economic expansion should mirror that of the nation’s until about the end of 2012, he said.

From KOSU’s Michael Cross:

In fact, energy production is running about the same percentage of Oklahoma GDP as it was in the late 70s and early 80s during the oil boom.

Rickman predicted a stronger global economy will boost oil demand in 2013, according to The Oklahoman:

… we’ll see energy prices starting to become stronger,” which also would strengthen Oklahoma’s economic growth, he said.

Poverty in Oklahoma is at a 10-year high, but incomes in Oklahoma are on the rise, reported KGOU’s Kurt Gwartney. Rickman said migration to Oklahoma might explain the poverty/income disparity:

… some of the people coming into Oklahoma are taking higher-paying jobs that are not going to current residents, Rickman said, according to KGOU.

The conference also turned to policy matters, including a discussion on the proposed reduction or elimination of the individual income tax — a measure supported by Gov. Mary Fallin and other lawmakers.

However, University of Central Oklahoma economist Mickey Hepner said only three alternatives are available to make up for the elimination of the more than 35 percent of state revenue the income tax provides — higher sales taxes, higher property taxes or major reductions in state spending, The Oklahoman reported.