Shale-rich Oklahoma sees widespread economic growth

Tax collections from oil and gas are up more than 25 percent from last year.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Aug. 8, 2017 at 8:17 AM
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Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Gross domestic product and production taxes from oil and gas in Oklahoma reveal the state economy is expanding, the state treasurer said.

In its latest estimate, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported gross domestic product increased in Oklahoma for the second quarter in a year, following four straight quarters of contraction.

"The body of evidence supporting economic recovery is growing," State Treasurer Ken Miller said in a statement. "Gross receipts show ongoing expansion, as do employment reports and broader measurements."

Oklahoma accounts for as much as 5 percent of the total national output of crude oil and is the fifth-largest shale natural gas producer in the country, making it one of the more shale-rich states. The slump in crude oil prices, which are about half what they were three years ago, has left states like Oklahoma under financial strain.

The state economy still faces headwinds, however, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin expressed concern during the second quarter because state fiscal planners were still dealing with an $878 million budget gap, only a minor improvement from the $1.3 billion hole last year.

The 2018 budget is $37.7 million, or about a half percent, lower than the appropriated budget for this year. A gauge of business conditions, where an index reading above 50 equates to optimism, was set at 49.4 last month, lower than the 57.7 from June.

"The energy sector continued to bring strength to the index, while slight weakness in the manufacturing sector lowered the overall rate," the state treasurer reported.

Gross production tax collections over the last 12 months are slightly less than the previous period at $11 billion. Oil and gas production tax collections, meanwhile, are up 27.5 percent from last year at $454.1 million.

More recent metrics could offer an indication of future reports into Miller's office. Drilling services company Baker Hughes last week reported a decline in the number of rigs operating in Oklahoma. Rig counts serve as a barometer for spending on exploration and production.

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