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Business and Economy

Oklahoma Revenue Figures Drop Over Previous Year For First Time Since Recession

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Office of the State Treasurer
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New figures out Thursday morning show gross receipts to the state treasury over the past year were down for first time in nearly seven years. Collections shrank by nearly 16 percent from 2008 to 2009, largely affected by the global economic crisis known as the Great Recession. Calendar year growth ranged from 2.5 percent to 9.6 percent between 2010 and 2014.

“We’re seeing that gross receipts are down by almost 9 percent compared to December of last year,” said Deputy Treasurer and spokesman Tim Allen. “When we look at the calendar year for 2015, we see that total collections are down by 3 percent. So the trend is certainly downward.”

See the 2015 Revenue Figures

All four of the state’s major revenue streams have been hurt by the energy downturn. For 12 straight months, oil and natural gas production taxes have been lower than the previous year.

Gross production collections for December are almost 50 percent below the December 2014 figure, and Deputy Treasurer Tim Allen says that number is actually based on October drilling activity, when the average price of oil was around $46 per barrel.

“We know that in November and December the prices were lower than they were in October,” Allen said. “So we can only expect that trend to continue.”

The price of oil was around $33 a barrel Thursday morning.

Income taxes were up, but sales and motor vehicle collections were both down by just under 2 percent. The steepest decline for the year came from oil and gas gross production taxes, which were down by $409 million, 46 percent below 2014.

Unemployment Anomaly

The most recent unemployment rate for Oklahoma was down – 4.2 percent in November. That may seem like an indication of a strengthening economy, but Lynn Gray, the director of Economic Research and Analysis at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, says that’s not the case.

““We’ve had a lot of exhaustions,” Gray said. “Just as people have not found work, and they’ve completed their benefits, and so there was a decline in the total number of people who were receiving benefits, or what we call continuing claims.”

Gray says he doesn’t expect the state’s employment situation or labor market to improve if energy prices don’t climb anytime soon.

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