In The Know: Unemployment falls to 7.8%, economy adds 114,000 jobs

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 you should know that the unemployment rate in the U.S. fell to 7.8 percent, and the economy added 114,000 jobs last month.  Superintendents representing 66 public school districts in Oklahoma rallied in opposition to the state’s new method of grading school performance.  Oklahoma has too many ‘high hazard’ dams and too few inspectors.

Jobs coming to Oklahoma in the years ahead require science and technology education, and the state’s workers don’t have the skills or access to training to perform them.  Workers’ comp reform is once again a legislative priority.  Oklahoma Policy Institute released a new resource showing who pays taxes in Oklahoma, and how much, in two simple charts.

Cherokee Nation Health Services earned a handful of state and national awards for care and quality.  The Number of the Day is the amount per day it costs Oklahoma for a paroled offender, versus an incarcerated offender.  In today’s Policy Note, the National Women’s Law Center analyzed new Census Data and calculated the wage gap state by state.

In The News

U.S. Jobless Rate Declines to 7.8%; 114,000 Jobs Added

The unemployment rate in the U.S. unexpectedly fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, as employers took on more part-time workers.  The economy added 114,000 workers last month after a revised 142,000 gain in August that was more than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 92 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 115,000. The jobless rate dropped from 8.1 percent and hourly earnings climbed more than forecast.

Read more from Bloomberg at

School superintendents say state’s grading methods ‘deeply flawed’

Superintendents representing 66 public school districts with an estimated 300,000 students laid out their concerns about the state’s new A-F school grading system in a Thursday morning press conference.   The Oklahoma State Department of Education is set to debut the grades for all 1,761 public schools in the state on Monday, but superintendents from across the state say the state’s grading method is “deeply flawed.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma Has Fourth-Worst Dam to Inspector Ratio

Oklahoma has more than 4,700 dams, 2011 data from the National Inventory of Dams show. Most of those are state controlled, and more than 300 have “high hazard potential,” according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. The definition of hazardous dam varies from state to state, but Stateline reports that most are “associated with the likelihood that a failure will lead to fatalities:”  “They’re doing the best job they can. They just don’t have the resources,” says Lori Spragens, executive director of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. “There are just not enough inspectors out there.”

Read more from StateImpactOK at

Oklahoma lawmakers look to boost community college, CareerTech educations

A large percentage of the jobs created in the state in the years to come are expected to be in fields such as aerospace, information technology and oil and natural gas, said state Secretary of Science and Technology Stephen McKeever. All those fields require a background in areas related to science and technology.  The state is expected to see more than 6,900 jobs created related to science and technology each year for the next 10 years, McKeever said. But only about 4,000 students graduate from state colleges and universities with degrees in those fields per year.  A large percentage of those students come from outside Oklahoma, meaning they’re less likely to stay here after graduation. Many come from overseas, he said, and can’t remain in Oklahoma after college because of student visa restrictions.

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma Senate not done with workers’ comp reform

An old legislative favorite, workers’ compensation reform, may be returning to the top of the agenda in the state Senate.   Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, told the Tulsa Metro Chamber on Thursday that workers’ comp reform is his top priority for next year’s session, followed by education, tax reform and capital improvements.   “No. 1, hands down, is workers’ comp,” he said, referring to business obstacles in the state. “We have had reforms in the workers’ comp system. They don’t work. We’ve been nibbling around the edges.   “It’s time we take a real strong look at workers’ comp in Oklahoma.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Cherokee Nation Health Services rakes in awards

Cherokee Nation’s first-rate doctors, healthcare staff and progressive diabetes treatment programs continue to rake in state and national awards.  Cherokee Nation Health Services, which oversees eight health centers, an employee clinic and a hospital, was recently honored by three prestigious organizations for its outstanding work.  W.W. Hastings Hospital Medical Director Douglas Nolan was named Physician of the Year by the Rural Health Association of Oklahoma.  Hastings pharmacy received a Local Impact Award from the National Indian Health Board for its intensive diabetes monitoring service of patients.  And Health Services’ overall Diabetes Program snagged the John Pipe Voices of Change Award from the American Diabetes Association for helping curb the disease in Indian Country.

Read more from the Pryor Daily Times at

Quote of the Day

By manipulating student growth data and using only the data of students showing positive growth, the State Department of Education has intentionally skewed student growth data. By excluding students who show zero or negative growth, the ‘state average growth rate’ is an inflated number that is not representative of all students’ performance. This faulty interpretation of ‘average’ has resulted in lower grades for each school.

Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard, on a ‘deeply flawed’ formula now being used by the state to grade school performance

Number of the Day


The amount per day it costs the Dept. of Corrections for a paroled offender in Oklahoma, versus $45 per day for an incarcerated offender.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

State by State, the Wage Gap Lives On

The Census Bureau recently released data that showed no improvement in the wage gap — nationally, the typical woman who worked full time, year round was still paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart in 2011. This gap hasn’t changed in a decade and it’s even worse for women of color.  Last week, the Census Bureau released data from the American Community Survey, a survey that provides median earnings for men and women by state. Based on that data, NWLC has calculated the wage gap for each state.

Read more from the National Women’s Law Center at

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