Oklahoma City's sales tax exceeds expectations, but salary outlook is dim for metro-area workers

Tax receipts are good news, but other economic indicators show a mixed picture.
by William Crum Modified: July 10, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: July 9, 2014

Oklahoma City’s budget year is off to a good start, a sharp reversal from this time last year.

The picture is cloudier for working people, though, based on the latest federal economic reports for the metro area.

The July sales tax check, the first of the new fiscal year, was for $35.1 million — up 5.7 percent over last year and well above the budget target of 3.9 percent growth. That’s a sharp departure from July 2013, when sales tax collections began the year down 3.4 percent.

Sales tax is the biggest single contributor to the budget and the primary source of cash for day-to-day services such as police and fire protection.

Oklahoma City expects overall sales tax growth of 2.8 percent this year, with higher collections from July to September and in January to March, said Doug Dowler, city budget director.

Based on those projections, the city council adopted a $1.1 billion budget that adds 92 positions. That brings the city’s authorized workforce to 4,672, up 2 percent.

The latest federal economic reports show metro-area employment on the upswing, but much of the growth is in lower-paying jobs.

The metro area added 3,600 jobs between April and May, bringing total employment to 626,600, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But employment in mining and logging — in Oklahoma, primarily the oil and gas industry — was flat for the month and down 2.9 percent from the same time last year. Service-providing jobs grew by 4,000 for the month and showed a 2.9 percent increase over May 2013.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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