Oklahoma Business Conditions Index for October rises
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Friday, November 02, 2012
11/02/12 at 3:55 AM
Oklahoma continues to benefit from the energy sector as a leading economic gauge for the state jumped again in October, pointing to growth in the months ahead.
The Business Conditions Index for Oklahoma advanced to 63.3 from September's reading of 56.6 and August's 53.6, economists at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., said Thursday.
Oklahoma's index was the second highest in the nine-state Mid-America region, surpassed only by North Dakota, which posted a reading of 64.1.
The index, taken from a survey of businesses, is derived from new orders, production or sales, employment, inventories and delivery lead time. A number greater than 50 signals expansion in the next three to six months, and a number less than 50 points to economic contraction.
As in past months, Oklahoma and North Dakota, which depend significantly on the energy sector, will continue to expand while the rest of the region pulls back, said Ernie Goss, director of Creighton's Economic Forecasting Group.
Goss said the stronger numbers for Oklahoma were surprising because some other data, including that from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, point to slowing growth.
"Even as Oklahoma's economy has expanded at a solid pace, we are tracking somewhat weaker, but positive, job growth," he said. "Companies in the state report shortages of skilled labor even as some firms cut jobs."
Employers report the need for welders, machinists and skills connected to the energy sector, Goss said.
Food processing could see increasing costs in the future, he added, pointing to the impact of the drought in Oklahoma and other states, which has caused many ranchers to liquidate large portions of their herds.
In October, Oklahoma's confidence index, which is separate from the overall index, rose to 59.2 from 52.3 in September.
Unlike the upbeat data for Oklahoma, the overall index for the Mid-America region slumped to 46.5 from September's tepid 50.4.
The region's employment gauge rose to a still weak 47.7 from September's 46.1 but was down from August's 49.5 - the weakest job readings recorded since shortly after the recession ended in 2009, according to the Creighton report.
In addition to Oklahoma and North Dakota, the Mid-America region includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Original Print Headline: Energy boosts state business index
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466