The State of Working Oklahoma: The Uneven Recovery Leaves Many Behind

By most standards of economic growth, the Oklahoma economy has been doing very well. Gross State Product (GSP) – a measure of the value of all goods and services produced in the state – has shown strong growth. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate has remained below the national rate and total personal income in the state has increased significantly since the 2001 recession. Yet the benefits of the expansion have been unevenly distributed. While the Oklahoma economy is expanding – producing more goods and services – and generating ever greater revenues, the growth is not necessarily translating into greater opportunity and economic well-being for all Oklahomans. Between 2001 and 2005, the median wage in Oklahoma, adjusted for inflation, declined by nearly 1 percent. Median household income declined 4.5 percent over the same period. For most Oklahoma wage earners and their families, the bottom line during this uneven
recovery has been a declining standard of living.

To better understand how the Oklahoma economy can be enjoying a period of overall growth while simultaneously seeing declines in income for the median household, we focus our analysis on four main areas – the general Oklahoma economy, jobs and the labor force, wage and income, and family self-sufficiency.