Oklahoma isn't seeing weakness that's hurting factories across U.S., world

Manufacturing is weakening around the globe, a trend that is weighing on U.S. growth just as the presidential campaign enters its final stretch. Meanwhile in Oklahoma, manufacturing activity has slowed a little but remains in good shape, an economist said.
By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER Modified: September 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm •  Published: September 5, 2012
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Manufacturing is weakening around the globe, a trend that is weighing on U.S. growth just as the presidential campaign enters its final stretch.

In Oklahoma, manufacturing activity has slowed a little but remains in good shape, said Chad Wilkerson, Federal Reserve economist in Oklahoma City.

Nationally, factory activity shrank for a third straight month in August, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management released Tuesday.

Manufacturing has slumped as American businesses have scaled back demand for machinery, equipment and other investments. It's also contracting in just about every major economy overseas, including the 17 countries that use the euro, plus Britain, China, Japan and Brazil. In China, factory activity fell last month to its lowest level in more than three years.

Wilkerson said Oklahoma's manufacturing sector doesn't export much to Europe and has been insulated from the slowdown there. It's also been boosted by demand for oil and gas equipment in a still-booming energy sector, he said.

“Our manufacturing employment is up from a year ago and has outperformed the nation and other states,” he said.

The latest manufacturing survey for Oklahoma and other states in the Kansas City Federal Reserve region also had factory owners optimistic about capital investment and hiring expectations by early 2013.

However, less factory production in the U.S. and abroad has sapped a critical source of growth and jobs in the three years since the recession ended. That trend likely will keep growth and hiring tepid through the November elections.

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