In The Know: U.S. economy adds 200,000 jobs, lowest unemployment in 3 years

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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that unemployment reached its lowest level in three years and the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs.  Boeing Co. plans to move about 1,000 new jobs to Oklahoma City by 2013.  A new report ranks Oklahoma 25th in public money spent on tuition for community college dropouts.  Today’s Policy Note explains why producing more college graduates requires a commitment to promoting savings, especially among children from lower income families.

A top scientist at the Centers for Disease Control says much more research is needed on the possible impacts of shale gas drilling, or ‘fracking,’ on human health.  A Tulsa World editorial questions the wisdom of the state’s decision to shift the cost of healthcare for some babies away from the private insurance market and onto taxpayers.  OK Policy previously covered the newborn exclusion rule here.  A youth guidance specialist at the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Detention Center is charged with two counts of second-degree rape for the sexual assault of a teenage inmate.

The settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit against the state Department of Human Services is being challenged by a lawsuit questioning its constitutionality.  The six states along the Keystone XL Pipeline route face unequal risk and benefits for their residents.  The OK Policy Blog hosts Juan Pedroza from The Urban Institute on the impact of anti-immigrant legislation in the states.  Today’s Number of the Day is the average number of kids per month in Oklahoma who had unemployed parents in 2011.

In The News

U.S. economy adds 200,000 jobs, sends unemployment lower

More positive economic news on Friday as the Department of Labor announced that unemployment had reached its lowest level in three years and the economy had added 200,000 jobs.  The U.S Department of Labor Friday morning revealed another piece of good economic news: 200,000 new U.S. jobs were created in December and unemployment ticked down to 8.5 percent.  This is the sixth consecutive months that the U.S. economy has added at least 100,000 jobs, according to The New York Times, and while the growth is still too slow to send unemployment dramatically lower, coupled with other good economic news, it’s a sign the economy may finally be ready to start growing again.

Read more from the New York Times at

About 1K Boeing Jobs Heading To Oklahoma City

The closure of a major Boeing Co. complex in Wichita, Kan., will bring about 1,000 jobs to Oklahoma City.  Boeing announced Wednesday that about 900 engineering and management jobs from Wichita and another 100 from Puget Sound, Wash., will move to the capital city. In 2010, Boeing moved 550 jobs to Oklahoma City from Long Beach, Calif.  Including jobs already in place before the moves, Oklahoma City could have 2,300 Boeing employees by the time the Wichita plant is shuttered at the end of 2013.  Oklahoma economic development officials welcome the move but the reaction was muted out of sympathy for the impact the job losses will have in Wichita.

Read more from KOCO at

Oklahoma spends millions on community college students who drop out, study says

Between 2004 and 2008, Oklahoma’s community college dropouts cost taxpayers $57 million, including state appropriations and federal and state grants, according to a recent study.  In that five-year period, Oklahoma’s community college dropouts cost taxpayers $57 million, the study says. That total includes state appropriations, as well as state and federal grant money.  During the 2008-09 academic year, Oklahoma spent $8.5 million on first-year dropouts, which ranked 25th in the nation.  At the heart of the retention issue is the very nature of community colleges, said Gary Davidson, executive director for Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges. Unlike larger, four-year institutions, community colleges are open access, Davidson said, meaning they accept students who would be turned away by other schools.  “We don’t choose our students,” he said. “They choose us.”

Read more from NewsOK at

CDC Scientist: Tests Needed on Gas Drilling Impact

One of the government’s top scientists says much more research is needed to determine the possible impacts of shale gas drilling on human health and the environment.  “Studies should include all the ways people can be exposed, such as through air, water, soil, plants and animals,” Dr. Christopher Portier wrote to The Associated Press in an email.  Portier is director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.  While other federal and state regulators are already studying the impacts of gas drilling on air and water, Portier said research should also include “livestock on farmed lands consuming potentially impacted surface waters; and recreational fish from potentially impacted surface waters.”

Read more from ABC News at

Babies excluded from new insurance program

For state leaders who supposedly are staunchly pro-family, they have a funny way of showing it.  You’d think they’d be all for helping parents do the proper and responsible thing and acquire health insurance for their newborn babies. But instead, they “offered up newborn babies as a bargaining chip,” an advocacy group charges, in order to strike a deal with insurers.  State Insurance Commissioner John Doak, with the approval of Gov. Mary Fallin, recently drafted an emergency rule that allows insurers in the state to exclude babies under 1 year of age from child-only coverage – a measure that could force some parents and caregivers into relying on taxpayers, other ratepayers or charity for infant health care.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma teenage inmate claims she was raped by an employee

A former employee of the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Detention Center is accused of raping and giving a sexually transmitted disease to a teenager incarcerated there.  Montoya Harris has been incarcerated since age 14.  Brown, of Ada, is accused of taking Harris from her dorm to secluded areas outside of surveillance cameras’ views and assaulting her while he was employed at the center in Tecumseh as a youth guidance specialist. The alleged assaults occurred in May 2010, court records show.  Brown was charged in June in Pottawatomie County District Court with first-degree rape, but the charges were later amended to two counts of second-degree rape.

Read more from NewsOK at

Lawsuit challenges Oklahoma DHS lawsuit settlement

The modified settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit that accused the state Department of Human Services of harming children in its foster homes and state shelters should be tossed out because the state board that made changes to the agreement acted unconstitutionally, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday with the state Supreme Court.  The suggested changes by the Contingency Review Board should not have been considered by DHS commissioners because the two legislative members on the panel violated the state constitution’s separation of powers act, according to the lawsuit filed by Jerry Fent, an Oklahoma City attorney.  Fent is questioning the legality of the legislative leaders meeting with the governor to consider the settlement proposal. The state constitution states the powers of the judicial, executive and legislative departments of government should be separate.

Read more from NewsOK at

Unequal Risks and Benefits for Citizens in Six States on Keystone XL Pipeline Route

If the Keystone XL oil pipeline were approved today, residents in the six states along its route would not receive equal treatment from TransCanada, the company that wants to build the project.  The differences are particularly striking when it comes to tax revenue and environmental protection. States with stronger regulations have won protections for their citizens, while other states sometimes focused more on meeting TransCanada’s needs.  In Kansas, for example, lawmakers gave TransCanada a 10-year tax exemption, which means the state won’t receive any property tax revenue from the pipeline. Meanwhile, each of the other five states—Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas—would earn between $14 million and $63 million a year, according to U.S. State Department estimates.

Read more from Inside Climate News at

Guest Blog (Juan Pedroza): Should I stay or should I go?

Are immigrants from states passing tough immigration laws leaving in droves? Since Alabama grabbed headlines after passing a restrictive law, accounts and images of idle store fronts, vacancy signs, empty pew aisles, and dips in school enrollment swept the airwaves.  News coverage of similar experiments in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Georgia also featured accounts of imminent flight. The mass exodus storyline is tempting because it stokes immigration control advocates and outrages immigrant rights advocates. But are these accounts reliable?

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Quote of the Day

“We don’t choose our students.  They choose us.”

Gary Davidson, executive director for Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges

Number of the Day


Number of kids on average per month in Oklahoma who had unemployed parents in 2011.

Source: Brookings Institution

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why Policymakers Should Care about College Savings

“Creating a Financial Stake in College” is a four-part series of reports that focuses on the relationship between children’s savings and improving college success. This series examines: (1) why policymakers should care about savings, (2) the relationship between inequality and bank account ownership, (3) the connections between savings and college attendance, and (4) recommendations to refine children’s savings account proposals.  Report I presents a case for why policymakers should care about promoting savings, especially among children from lower income families. The report presents evidence on the relationship between children’s savings and college success and provides the context for a broader discussion of designing children’s savings policies and ensuring that they offer children a meaningful financial stake in college.

Read more from New America Foundation at

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