OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma wins big compared to the rest of the nation when it comes to cost of living, percentage of job growth and support of economic freedom. But, the state continues to lag behind others in the areas of workers’ compensation, education and health care.
The recently-released 2012 Accountability for a Competitive Economic (ACE) book gives a clear picture of where Oklahoma is succeeding economically, and where the state continues to need improvement in order to attract jobs and investment.
The book, published by the State Chamber Research Foundation, provides a snapshot of Oklahoma’s business climate compared to that of other states. This year’s ACE book prsents tables and charts examining Business Climate/Competitiveness; Economic Development, Innovation & Technology; Workforce Development; and Infrastructure.
By analyzing how our state is performing in these arenas, we can focus our efforts on areas of needed improvement and acknowledge areas of accomplishment. “It is our hope that awareness of these benchmarks will drive policy, funding decisions and political efforts to make Oklahoma the premiere state in the nation to live and do business,” said State Chamber Research Foundation President Fred Morgan. “Our 2013 goal is to reinforce the positives that make Oklahoma great and fight to change those negatives that hold our state back.”
There are many areas where Oklahoma excels. The state ranks 1st in the country in cost of living, and 4th in the cost of doing business.
Oklahoma ranks 2nd in the nation for percentage of job growth and 7th overall in support of economic freedom. “It is important that we recognize our economic development strengths and continue to strive to improve in these areas,” said Morgan. “But, perhaps more importantly, we must recognize and acknowledge the areas where Oklahoma is lagging behind and push to get better.”
Oklahoma experiences almost double the number of Permanent Partial Disability workers’ compensation claims than every other state in our region and more than double the national average. The ACE book compares Oklahoma to our neighboring states in workers’ compensation premium rate, at $2.77/$100 in payroll, our index rate is the 6th highest in the nation and 47 percent higher than the national medium (page 15). This means higher costs for Oklahoma business owners. Oklahoma is also still coming up short in the caliber of its education system. The state was outpaced by five neighboring states in the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress.
Oklahoma’s spending on education ranks 33rd when compared to personal income, but 48th when our per pupil spending is compared to the rest of the nation (page 30 and 31). “A lack of a skilled workforce inhibits every business trying to find employees able to work in the 21st Century global economy,” said Morgan. “We must remember that education is an economic development driver in our state.” Health care continues to strain business budgets, and the uncertainty tied to the looming implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act is only compounding the issue.
Oklahoma state ranked 4th in the nation in percentage of Oklahomans without health insurance, which means higher premiums for every business and health care consumer in the state. “This is why the role of the State Chamber Research Foundation is so important,” said Mike Seney, Executive Director of the foundation.
“It is vital that Oklahoma’s business leaders, legislators, state officials and the public at large understand where our state excels and where we still need to focus efforts to improve. These issues directly impact Oklahoma businesses’ bottom lines.” For a copy of the ACE book, call 405-235-3669.