In The Know: State in mini-recession due to oil downturn, economist says

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

Oklahoma is already in mini-recession, economist says: Factoring Friday’s U.S. and state labor reports into RegionTrack’s adjusted database, he said Oklahoma energy industry job losses exceeded 9,000 from December through July, leaving overall state employment down about 2,000 positions, because of gains in other areas [Journal Record]. Falling oil prices have led Oklahoma companies like Samson Resources to prepare to file for bankruptcy, and others have lost nearly all of their stock market value. Experts say many of them borrowed money last year thinking the market would eventually pick back up and they’d be able to pay it back. But that hasn’t happened [NewsOn6].

Oil prices have ripple effect on local economy: On Tuesday, the price of a barrel of oil was $39, that’s a 30 percent drop from this spring. The drop in oil prices has lead to thousands of layoffs. Houston-based Baker Hughes cut more than 10,000 jobs this year, including 150 jobs in Claremore. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the layoffs have a ripple effect [KJRH]. Oklahomans are paying the lowest gasoline prices for this time of year since 2004 [KJRH].

Community Eligibility Provision can help make Oklahoma schools hunger-free: Part of the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, the Community Eligibility Provision allows high-poverty schools to provide breakfast and lunch at no charge for all students in some schools, groups of schools, and school districts. This ensures that all students have access to healthy, regular meals, without the stigma of poverty that may come with eating a school lunch [OK Policy].

Oklahoma graduates’ college readiness rate in core subjects remains level: The number of Oklahoma graduating seniors in 2015 who demonstrated college and career readiness in all four core subjects on the ACT college entrance exam remained static since last year. The percentage of the state’s 2015 graduates who met all four benchmarks in English, reading, science and math remained level for the second year in a row at 22 percent [Tulsa World].

Stormy weather for public education: Next legislative session, lawmakers will proclaim a new day for public education with approval of new English and math standards. The goal is to prepare students for a future in which educational quality and economic prosperity are largely inseparable. But there’s one looming question: Who will teach? [Shawn Hime / Tulsa World]. Every child should have a fully qualified school teacher waiting at the front of the class at the beginning of the school year. It’s a fundamental part of the social contract: the investment we all make to assure an educated, prosperous future [Editorial Board/ Tulsa World].

New community health centers announced: Unexpected news of a federal grant to expand its reach has boosted Morton Comprehensive Health Services’ celebration of National Health Center Week. The community health provider was awarded a $482,418 New Access Point grant that will allow it open a satellite location in west Tulsa [Tulsa World]. The nonprofit community health center Variety Care will receive a $1.13 million grant from a federal agency for a new health center in northwest Oklahoma City [NewsOK].

Mental health experts hope Costello’s death won’t perpetuate myths: Despite the threads linking Labor Commissioner Mark Costello’s death with his son’s medical conditions, mental health professionals want the public to remember that mental illness does not beget violence. Traci Cook, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oklahoma, said that, compared to the general population, people with a mental illness are less likely to commit violent acts and more likely to be victims of crime [Journal Record].

An old crime on the rise: Crooks and criminals in America’s farm country are turning to an old crime — cattle rustling. The high price for beef and substance abuse are behind the surge in livestock theft, and that’s putting some ranchers on edge [KGOU].

Quote of the Day

“Every child should have a fully qualified school teacher waiting at the front of the class at the beginning of the school year. It’s a fundamental part of the social contract: the investment we all make to assure an educated, prosperous future. And we’re failing miserably.”

– The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board, on the 1,000 teaching vacancies across the state as the 2015-16 school year kicks off. The shortage persists despite eliminating 600 positions across the state and a record number of emergency certification requests (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s bankruptcy rate per 1,000 people in 2013. The national average was 3.3.

Source: Corporation for Enterprise Development.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

States Confront Wide Budget Gaps Even After Years of Recover: Though the national economy is in its sixth year of recovery from the recession, many states are still facing major funding gaps that have locked legislatures in protracted battles with governors. In some states, lawmakers have gone into overtime with unresolved budgets, special sessions and threats of widespread government layoffs. Only 25 states have passed budgets, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, which tracks legislative activity. [The New York Times].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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