This week we released the July edition of Numbers You Need, our monthly bulletin of key economic and budget trends. The monthly report contained some glimmers of good news, as the state’s unemployment rate rose by a relatively modest 0.1 percentage point to 6.3 percent in May, while rising energy prices (of benefit to Oklahoma) contributed to a modest increase in the Consumer Price Index. However, if we step back and compare where we are now to our situation 12 months ago, we get a sense of the extent of the economic downturn’s toll on the state’s economy and population. Compared to 12 months ago, we find (numbers compare May 2009 to May 2008, except where otherwise noted):
- 39,900 fewer Oklahomans employed;
- A 77 percent increase in the number of unemployed;
- More than three times as many Oklahomans receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits;
- Over 51,000 more people receiving food assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) benefits and almost 26,000 more people on Medicaid (April 2009 vs. April 2008);
- State General Revenue collections down 30 percent (June 2009 vs. June 2008)
The weak economy continues to place great strains on both our private and public safety net support systems. Fortunately, the federal stimulus bill included increases in both Unemployment Insurance and food assistance benefits, as well as help for states to protect Medicaid health insurance coverage and avoid layoffs of teachers and other public sector employees. This provides crucial help to families in need and keep dollars circulating through the economy at a time when state resources are declining.
We hope you’ll check out Numbers You Need and post a comment sharing your thoughts.