October 10, 2014 The Journal Record: Producing for Oklahoma’s future Guest Colum by James Roller
This state’s new millennium oil boom has seen crude oil production reach 30-year highs, and Oklahoma workers are reaping the benefits of increased oil and natural gas exploration.
The latest report from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission shows that 28 counties boast an unemployment rate of less than 4 percent. All of those counties cover oil- and natural gas-rich areas of the state, including the Mississippi Lime in the north, the Granite Wash to the west and the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, known as SCOOP, that covers portions of southern Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s average unemployment rate of 4.7 percent is far below the national average of 6.2 percent and ranks 11th lowest in the country.
It is the oil and natural gas industry that has led Oklahoma’s post- recession growth, accounting for 24 percent of the jobs created since 2010. When jobs from the manufacturing industry and fabricated metal industry – two industries reliant on the oil and natural gas industry – are added, the number of jobs created from increased oil and natural gas drilling and production goes higher.
Those new jobs are also high-paying jobs. Employee compensation in the oil and natural gas industry is twice the amount of Oklahoma’s private sector average and accounts for $1 of every $2 of nonfarm earning in the state.
This has contributed to state income growth by nearly 7 percent in the past year. Those dollars have a profound effect in communities across the state, providing the economic base of the small towns where the men and women of the Oklahoma oil and gas industry live and work.
Working Oklahomans work in the oil field. A strong and vibrant oil and natural gas industry ensures not only Oklahoma’s future, but that all working men and women continue producing for Oklahoma.
James Roller is the vice president of legislative affairs for the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.