Accountability for a Competitive Economy: new ‘ACE’ book gives snapshot

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published 17-Feb-2011

A new book from an affiliate of the Oklahoma State chamber indicates where the Sooner State is economically compared to the rest of the nation The newly-releasaed “2011 Accountability for a Competitive Economy” (ACE) is published by The State Chamber’s research affiliate Oklahoma 21st Century, Inc.
The document reviews unemployment, workers’ compensation costs, educational progress, taxes, cost of doing business, investment levels and other critical economic issues compared to other states in the region and across the country.
In the evaluation, Oklahoma received high rankings when it comes to the cost of doing business (Table 11) and job growth in the last 10 years (Table 5).
However, the book also points out what the group considers the many challenges Oklahoma faces when it comes to business competitiveness.
Oklahoma ranks 7th highest in the nation in average benefit cost of  workers’ compensation per employee (Table 21), and employers pay the 4th highest workers’ compensation premiums (Table 22).
Employers have a difficult task finding skilled and educated workers, as evidenced by Oklahoma ranking 43rd in students over 25 obtaining a bachelor’s degree and with only 85.5 percent of Oklahomans graduating from high school (Table 27).
The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows Oklahoma’s fourth graders ranked 37th in reading and math, while our eighth graders rank 38th in reading and math (Table 30).
“The annual ACE publication gives a clear picture about where Oklahoma is economically right now, how we as a state stack up to those around us, and points to indicators where improvement is needed,” said Mike Seney, executive director of Oklahoma 21st Century and senior vice president of policy analysis & strategic planning for The State Chamber.
Seney said, “It is important that we recognize areas where we are succeeding, and others that are holding us back from job and economic growth and work together to improve our business climate moving forward.”
Also hampering Oklahoma’s job growth is a lack of venture capital investment (Table 24) and low research and development spending (Table 25). The state also has a high percentage of roads in poor condition (Table 32) and is in the top 15 states in percentage of population without health insurance (Table 39).
Overall, Oklahoma was ranked as the 25th best state for business in the country by CNBC in 2010 (Table 11), falling behind Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri in the region.
“Texas was ranked as the number one state in the country to do business, and companies looking to relocate take notice of the states on the top of that list,” said State Chamber President Fred Morgan.
In comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, Morgan concluded: “We have to do more to improve our business climate in Oklahoma so we can not only compete with Texas and other states in our region, but with the rest of the country, and indeed the world. Business retention and recruitment result in Oklahoma jobs that we need to grow our great state.”
For a copy of the ACE book, call 405-235-3669, or to view a PDF version online, go here.  For more information about Oklahoma 21st Century, go here.