Federal Reserve Bank economist says low oil prices account for slowdown in Oklahoma economy

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OKLAHOMA CITY — A Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City economist says lower oil prices have prevented Oklahoma's economy from growing with the national economy.

Chad Wilkerson, vice president and Oklahoma City branch executive, told local business executives Thursday at an economic forum in Oklahoma City that oil prices have fallen by more than 30 percent seven times since 1980. He said Oklahoma suffers when the energy sector accounts for a larger portion of employment and earnings, The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/1WFF4sv ) reported.

According to Wilkerson, state earnings ranged from 3 to 5 percent in the four downturns in the oil industry from 1990 to 2008.

"Divergence between Oklahoma and U.S. employment growth has increased," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said Oklahoma started showing signs of slowing down in 2014. He said that energy jobs have fallen sharply everywhere, but the decline has hit rural Oklahoma more than Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

According to Wilkerson, manufacturing in Tulsa has been affected because of the large concentration of metal fabrication in the area.

Despite the slowdown, Wilkerson said other parts of Oklahoma's economy are performing well, including the housing, commercial real estate and banking sectors. He says these areas have helped the state weather the energy sector woes.

Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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