Construction employment is at an all-time high in Oklahoma and has been growing at a rate of more than 5 % a year. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses how Oklahoma is part of a larger national trend.
Katelyn Howard: You're listening to the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I'm Katelyn Howard, and with me is Russell Ray, editor of The Journal Record. Thanks for joining me today, Russell.
Russell Ray: It's good to be here, Katelyn. Thanks so for having me.
Howard: This week, I'd like to discuss a flourishing industry in our state. According to recent data from the Associated General Contractors of America, construction employment reached a record high in Oklahoma over a 12 month period. Your reporter Brian Brus writes that additional analysis by the trade group shows that thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between May 2018 and May 2019, while construction employment increased in 31 states and D.C. from April to May. Can you tell us more about how Oklahoma's construction employment compares to other states?
Ray: Yes. Oklahoma was one of only four states to reach a record high from May 2018 to May of this year. The other states were Oregon, Washington and Texas. Texas was also noted for adding the most construction jobs over the year at about 35,000, followed by California, Florida and Arizona.
Howard: And those increases in major markets suggest that Oklahoma is part of a larger national trend.
Ray: That's right. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said some of the increase could simply be tied to Oklahoma's population growth. According to the commission, construction employment in Oklahoma has been growing at a rate of more than 5% a year. One construction official said the growth in construction jobs is a clear sign the state economy is healthy and strong.
Howard: While there has been job growth in the construction industry, the trend in residential building construction has been flat.
Ray: Yes. The driver behind more construction jobs in the state is growth in the non-residential building sector. That sector, in fact, has grown 15% over the last year in Oklahoma.
Howard: In the article, Brian writes that the AGC's leadership has used the data we've discussed to underscore a need for new federal investments in career and technical education programs as well as immigration reform.
Ray: Yes. The Association of General Contractors said immigration reform could help the industry find more skilled workers to keep up with demand. The association's CEO said making it easier for those workers to enter the country could lead to significant benefits for the broader economy.
Howard: While we're on the topic of construction, I want to quickly mention a related story from your intern Christian Tabak. He writes that Tulsa based WPX Energy announced plans to relocate to a new headquarters being constructed in the Greenwood District of downtown Tulsa. The company has oil and gas assets in New Mexico, North Dakota and Texas. Can you tell us more about this project?
Ray: Yes. This was a big story in Tulsa. Construction on the new 11-story headquarters will begin next year, and the company hopes to move into the new building in early 2022. WPX employs about 450 people in Tulsa, but the new building will be built to accommodate a 15% expansion in the future.
Howard: Russell Ray is editor of The Journal Record. Thanks for talking with me today, Russell.
Ray: My pleasure, Katelyn. Thank you.
Howard: KGOU and The Journal Record collaborate each week on the Business Intelligence Report. You can follow us both on social media. We're on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @journalrecord and @kgounews. You'll find links to the stories we discussed during this episode at JournalRecord.com. And this conversation, along with previous episodes of the Business Intelligence Report, are available on our website, KGOU.org. While you're there, you can check out other features and podcasts produced by KGOU and your StateImpact reporting team. This includes the latest Capitol Insider report about the new state budget and how lawmakers are dictating agency spending and moving money around to make the budget work. For KGOU and the Business Intelligence Report, I'm Katelyn Howard.
The Business Intelligence Report is a collaborative news project between KGOU and The Journal Record.
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