Although Oklahoma boasts one of the nation’s fastest-growing economies, it has seen some of the slowest growth in personal income in recent months, according to federal figures released Tuesday.
The Bureau for Economic Analysis ranked Oklahoma No. 32 in terms of personal income growth from the last quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014. The increase was 0.61 percentage points.
In comparison, No. 1 Washington saw 1.42 percentage point growth; last place North Dakota saw a 2.86 percentage point drop. The national average was 0.79 percentage points.
Wages and salaries are a component used to calculate personal income. When that growth is isolated, Oklahoma ranks even lower nationally at No. 45.
Some experts are pointing at the agriculture industry. Agriculture earnings are down 27 percent — roughly $1 billion — from 2013’s first quarter to 2014’s first quarter, said Robert Dauffenbach, director of Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma.
But Oklahomans shouldn’t be overly concerned, he said. Instead of illustrating that Oklahoma’s average personal income is growing slowly, the numbers might just be showing that other states’ are growing more quickly.
“Oklahoma’s fared fairly well during the recession ... while many other places were languishing,” he said. “Even though growth prospects are doing well, we’re back to normal patterns earlier than other places.”
Some industries saw more growth this quarter.
Construction saw a percentage point growth of 3.5. Finance and insurance ticked up 2.91 percentage points.
There was a slight drop in utilities at 0.74 percentage points. Forestry and fishing, as well as real estate and leasing also saw negative growth.
Instead of looking only at BEA’s personal income growth, Dauffenbach measured Oklahoma tax growth, which also paints a brighter picture.
“There’s still a lot of vibrancy being seen in state tax collections,” he said.
From the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, Oklahoma saw an increase of 4.7 percent in total tax collections. Income tax collections increased 7 percent.
The same agency ranked Oklahoma fourth in the nation for GDP growth earlier this month.
Dauffenbach suggested that quarterly growth is not a good indicator of trends and advocated for use of year-over-year statistics.
Oklahoma’s fared fairly well during the recession ... while many other places were languishing.”
director of Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma