Prosperity in the local economy led to a net gain of 85 jobs for Oklahoma City's government in the fiscal year that begins July 1. But even with the boost, the city is only just now approaching the same number of jobs it had 10 years ago.
There are 4,511 city jobs in the fiscal year 2013 Oklahoma City budget, the most since the city cut more than 200 jobs from 2001 to 2003 because of a recession, according to city figures. From a low of about 4,300 jobs in 2003, Oklahoma City added jobs every year until the next recession cut them back down to near that level by fiscal year 2011.
Conditions imposed by everything from global financial markets to the smallest parts of the local economy affect the city budget every year, city Budget Director Doug Dowler said.
“Sales tax is our primary source of revenue. As sales tax goes, so goes our number of employees,” Dowler said. “When people have less money to spend, we have less sales tax revenue coming in. Sales tax is driven by how many people are working and how much they're making at the jobs that they have.”
The city's all-time high water mark was more than 4,600 jobs in 1995.
Jobs aimed at needs
The net gain of 85 jobs for next year was spread out over a broad range of city departments.
Some of the biggest jumps in raw numbers are in the police and public works departments, a response to Oklahoma City residents' responses in surveys issued by the city. Public safety and street conditions are always at the top of the list of things residents want to see the most improvement in.
“Our council has always used that as a way to prioritize where we use our funds,” Dowler said.
Some of the biggest jumps in added jobs as a percentage of an overall department head count also reflect the changing dynamics in a growing city. The planning, public transit and parking, airports and information technology departments all had head count increases of six percent or more as the city invests more in those areas.
The number of added jobs could change on the fly if economic conditions worsen, but Oklahoma City typically bases its revenue projections on conservative estimates. City revenue has exceeded expectations so far in 2012, according to city figures.
Most of the jobs shed by the city in recent years were done by not filling open positions, Dowler said. But a layoff was necessary during the first recession of the last decade.
BY THE NUMBERS
Oklahoma City government jobs
Here is a list of the net gain of jobs for each department of the Oklahoma City government for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1. Some departments had a net change of zero and are not listed.
Source: City of Oklahoma City