Monday, October 10, 2005

A Look at the City of Tulsa's Economy


Mad Okie at Livin on Tulsa Time has some good information about unemployment and population growth in Tulsa and the surrounding area. He attributes the regional improvements not so much to the actions of Mayor LaFortune, but to the overall recovery of the U.S. economy.

Lets take a closer look, shall we?

He correctly points out that the unemployment numbers are metro or regional numbers (the Tulsa MSA) not only the city of Tulsa. As we all know the suburbs of T-Town have prospered while the city itself has declined. Unfortunately, the City of Tulsa is still down tens of thousands of jobs. Some have been recovered in the suburbs. Those trade off's were from high paying to much lower paying positions, for the most part.

To again show you the dismal performance of the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce efforts to attract meaningful new jobs into the area, take a look here and click on the download link for new and expanded businesses in the Tulsa MSA over the past few years. It will be worth going to see it and it's easy to pick out the Tulsa only businesses.

Here is an edited sample showing all the 2005 data:
New and Expanded Industries
Tulsa MSA, 1996-2005

2005
New Industry:
Company-----------Location--------New Jobs
Elephant Bar Restaurant Tulsa 125
Global Data Systems Tulsa 25
Horizontal Oilfield Systems Tulsa 10
PBM Fab Mfg. school bus windows Tulsa 50
Pelco Structural Claremore 100
Skycam Mfg. aerial camera sys Broken Arrow 50

That's a measly 210 jobs created or expanded in Tulsa in 2005 so far per the Metro Chamber's numbers. The single largest increase for Tulsa in recent history was 1,300 new jobs in 2004 by DirectTV.

We all know that restaurants and satellite TV jobs are poor replacements for Williams, Citgo, etc. So, although a few jobs have been created, the trend is a replacement of good jobs for average jobs.

There is another factor at work here that is not reported in the numbers. Unemployment rates do not include those who have simply given up on finding a job. It also does not include those people unilaterally called contract laborers by their employers as a ploy by the employer to escape the payment of payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance and employee benefits.

The IRS should crack down hard on this abuse, but it has been going on for a long time. The result is when the "contract" worker is let go, he cannot file for unemployment. The unemployment rate numbers are calculated using jobless claims. I firmly believe the stated unemployment rates of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the U.S. are grossly understated.

Oh, and by the way, it appears that the population of Tulsa proper has declined every year since 2000 when it peaked at 393,049. As of June 2003 it had declined to 387,807. Over the same period, the Tulsa suburbs have flourished. Read the article here.

And you regionalists will love this quote by then Tulsa Deputy Mayor Steve Sewell:

Sewell also downplayed any concerns about growth in the suburbs.
"I think we can co-exist," Sewell said. "Anything that benefits Broken Arrow and other towns will benefit Tulsa."

Mr. Sewell, PROVE IT!

Update 10-11-05
How can I have forgotten another unreported factor regarding employment?

I'm referring to the under-employed. Those displaced people who have sought any type of job just to have some income. I know a lawyer operating a sandwich shop. I know a property manager installing sprinkler systems. I know a registered nurse who is making and selling soap. I know an engineer who works for a non-profit. The list is endless.

Sometimes the strategy is to work at some type of meaningful employment until something better or in their field comes around. Anyway, my point is that this is never reported in any published statistic.

Does anyone really believe the unemployment numbers trumpeted by our government?

3 comments:

meeciteewurkor said...

It also does not include those people unilaterally called contract laborers by their employers as a ploy by the employer to escape the payment of payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance and employee benefits.

*cough*
You would be surprised at the amount of contractors that the CITY of Tulsa hires, who in turn also have this practice. It's a vicious circle.

Steven H. Roemerman said...
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