Basic trainging family day and graduation at Fort Sill.

duchesskit08 / Flickr

Government Growth has Been Good to Lawton

  • Joe Wertz

duchesskit08 / Flickr

Basic training family day and graduation at Fort Sill.

Three metropolitan areas dominate Oklahoma’s economy.

The Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton metro areas contributed about 75 percent of the state’s 2010 gross domestic product, a term that describes the total market value of goods and services that are produced, U.S. Department of Commerce data show.

But Lawton’s GDP has grown significantly more than both OKC and Tulsa in recent years. Why is that?

The Lawton metro has a fraction of OKC and Tulsa’s respective populations, but its gross domestic product is increasing — a lot.

Real GDP Growth from 2009-2010

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

From 2009 to 2010, Lawton’s GDP grew 6.9 percent. Compare that to OKC’s 1.7 percent growth and Tulsa, which has been on the decline since 2008.

That’s big for Oklahoma, but it’s nationally significant, too. The Lawton metro ranked No. 15 in growth among all 366 U.S. metropolitan areas, according to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. OKC ranked 205; Tulsa 329.

The OKC and Tulsa metros grew faster than Lawton’s in 2007 and 2008. But something changed from 2009 to 2010. One possibility? The government.

As an industry sector, government is growing big-time in the Lawton metro. From 2009-2010, government grew 5.6 percent, according to the data, which we confirmed with the bureau’s Ralph Stewart. OKC’s barely grew at all during those years, and Tulsa’s actually declined slightly.

The government’s role in Lawton is obvious: Fort Sill, which is the area’s largest single employer.

We’re going to dig into this some more in the coming weeks. One thing we’re interested in: Why the OKC metro is being outpaced when it has Tinker Air Force Base, the state’s largest single-site employer?

Have any idea what’s going on down in Lawton? / @StateImpactOK on Twitter