Congressional economists provide new economic snapshot

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 02-Jun-2010

The April 2010 state-by-state snapshot of the economy, issued recently by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, contains useful data for economists, fiscal analysts, budget planners and interested citizens.

While often reflecting the perspective of the current congressional majority, including repeated references to the presidential administration that left office in January 2009, the analysis is nonetheless useful. 

The document presents some good news:

“After experiencing substantial job losses (or a de minimis level of job gains) since the start of the recession in December 2007, the private sector gained 231,000 jobs in April 2010. Since January 2010, the private sector has added jobs every month, for a total of 483,000 jobs. While these numbers provide an indication that the economy has started to recover, a stronger, sustained level of job creation is needed to reduce the large pool of unemployed workers.”

As the analysis notes, “(E)ven with 200,000 jobs created each month, it would take over 3 years to recreate the 8.5 million private sector jobs lost from December 2007 to December 2009, so unemployment rates are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future.”

All states, including Oklahoma, are analyzed in the report for the following data: “Jobs created or lost since the start of the recession; Jobs saved or created by the Recovery Act; Unemployment rates; Per capita earnings; and, The condition of the housing sector.”

As for Oklahoma, “The unemployment rate in Oklahoma was 6.6 percent in April 2010, up 3.0 percentage points from December 2007, but down from its most recent peak of 6.9 percent reached in October 2009. 117,000 Oklahoma residents were counted among the unemployed in Oklahoma during April 2010. Between the start of the recession in the 4th quarter of 2007 and the 1st quarter of 2009, inflation-adjusted total personal income in the United States declined 2.5 percent. Most recently, in the 4th quarter of 2009, total personal income remained 2.8 percent below the 4th quarter 2007 peak.”

Further, “Real per capita personal income (in 2005 $) in Oklahoma was $32,306.80 in the 4th quarter of 2009, down from $32,700.90 in the 4th quarter of 2007.”

Continuing, “In Oklahoma, home prices fell 2.9 percent between July 2008 and April 2009, peak to trough. Most recently, home prices decreased 0.11 percent in the state between November and December 2009. As of the 1st quarter of 2010, 3.0 percent of all mortgages, including 9.6 percent of subprime mortgages, were in foreclosure in Oklahoma. Housing starts in Oklahoma totaled 9,330 units (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in March 2010, a decrease of 11.2 percent from February.”

The report also disclosed that within the South census region, including Oklahoma, “sales of new single-family homes totaled 231,000 units in March 2010, an increase of 43.5 percent from February. Sales of existing single-family homes increased 7.9 percent to 1,770,000 units (at seasonally adjusted annual rates) from February to March 2010. The median price of single-family homes in Oklahoma was $149,500 in 2008, compared to $250,000 nationwide.”

Placing Oklahoma date within a national picture, the JEC analysis continued, “As the economy recovers from the Great Recession, service-providing industries are projected to add the most jobs between 2008 and 2018, with the largest gains in professional and business services, education, health care and social assistance, and State and local government. Within the goods-producing sector of the economy, only the construction industry is projected to add jobs above its 2008 level.”

The JEC report included an estimate from the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisers that “investments made through the Recovery Act have boosted employment in Oklahoma by 32,000 jobs through the 1st quarter of 2010.” Further, “In 2010, the following sectors in Oklahoma experienced the greatest employment increases: mining; construction; and financial activities.”