Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oklahoma City Defies Recession

Of the five big metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates — Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Washington, San Antonio and Austin — four are state or U.S. capitals and all have a large government workforce.

Oklahoma City's economy is not only diversified but, by coincidence, is strong in areas that are thriving — or at least not collapsing — in this recession:

Government jobs: As a state capital, it has a jobs base that enjoys the stability of government — federal, state and local. Despite budget shortfalls across the USA, state and local government are among the few parts of the economy that have added jobs during the recession.

Medical and education jobs: Oklahoma City has large medical facilities and universities, types of employers that have held up well in the recession.

Energy jobs: Oklahoma City is home to the state's two largest oil and gas companies, Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy.

The city also escaped the real estate bubble.

The area's median housing price is $129,900, up 4% from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. Nationally, housing prices were down 14% during that time.

"Our highs are not high, and our lows are not low," says Michael Bernard, president of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association of Oklahoma.