Brookings report highlights economic success

Published Wednesday, April 24, 2019
by Cathy O'Connor

When economic success is measured on a national scale, factors such as U.S. gross domestic product, expanding jobs, falling unemployment, and rising stock prices are good indicators of our country’s economic well-being. But there are other factors, such as inclusion and growth, that provide a more in-depth picture of how healthy our economy is.

A recent Brookings Institution report, Metro Monitor 2019, compared 100 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas on additional metrics such as growth, prosperity, and inclusion over the decade of 2007 to 2017 and from 2016 to 2017. Like most of the areas, Oklahoma City had higher output and more jobs over the past decade, ranking third in percentage change of productivity. Our city was ranked 27th in percentage change of jobs at young firms.

This dynamism, as defined by Brookings, indicates a growth in entrepreneurial activity and shows that we are on the right track by supporting and encouraging technology startups and innovation. Entrepreneurship plays a critical role in economic growth and reflects investors’ confidence in growth and prosperity.

Oklahoma City’s economy was ranked fifth overall in terms of prosperity, by comparing annual living wages, productivity, and standard of living. Using those same prosperity measurements, Oklahoma City’s inclusion ranking, or how different races prosper, is higher for the past year than for the past decade. It shows that we are moving in the right direction. No doubt we still have significant room for improvement, particularly within the race employment rate gap.

This discrepancy, the gap in “truly inclusive economic growth,” was found in most of the metros in the study. This finding emphasizes the need for several initiatives that we are working on now, particularly in creating and maintaining affordable housing, quality job growth, and wealth building opportunities. The Innovation District TIF with its education and workforce development components is a recent example of how we are working to create more inclusive prosperity. The opportunity zone initiative provides us with another tool to encourage wealth building and economic growth in low-income communities.

The Metro Monitor report shows that our city economy has been growing over the past decade and highlights where we need to continue our efforts. True economic success means growth and prosperity for all.

Cathy O’Connor is the president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

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