AJF News

2016 End of Year President's Report

12/19/2016 by Jessika Leatherbury
Tags: Michael Southard, Economic Report

2016 in Review - End of Year President's Report

The Ada Jobs Foundation monitors various data sources to identify trends and forecast growth for the area.  This is consistent with our work as an economic development organization, and monitoring also allows for deeper analysis into local trends that may or may not be part of larger patterns in the region, state or national level. Governor Fallin recently claimed the State of Oklahoma may be facing another budget shortfall in the range of $500,000 to $600,000. The City of Oklahoma City recently announced there will be workforce reductions due to lower retail sales activity.

The slow recovery in the Oil/Gas industry is a significant reason for the state’s budget woes, as the state budget depends heavily on income taxes, sales taxes, and production taxes.  Income derived from the oil and gas industry impacts these taxes significantly.  Other statewide trends show unemployment up, wages down and sales tax collections down, and exploration has not yet picked back up.

Retail Sales

In Ada, the sales tax collections have been relatively stagnant for the last two years. Since the record high in sales tax collections in 2014, Ada has seen declines in sales tax collections of 0.3% between 2014-15 and 0.4% between 2015-16. While sales tax collections have been slightly down, the decrease is minor and total collections have still remained above $15M.

Of the four largest communities in southeastern Oklahoma, Durant was the only one to with a growth in sales tax collections in 2016, though it was only an increase of 0.9% over the previous year. Sales tax collections dropped in Ardmore by $645,383 (-3.0%) and McAlester by $590,397 (-4.2%).

Economists at OU and OSU partner together to calculate an Adjusted Retail Sales for the largest 50 communities in Oklahoma. This figure discards manufacturing purchases and reflects only cash register sales. Ada’s adjusted retail sales (Jan-Sep 2016) were calculated to be $248.1M which is $308K less than the same months in 2015, a 0.1% decrease. Statewide there was a drop of $678.7M or a 2.3% decrease. Only six of the studied communities experienced an increase over these 9 months in 2016.  The communities with the larges decrease in sales tax collections appear to be those most affected by the drop in the oil and gas industry.  Overall, Ada’s slight decrease in sales collections should be read in a regional and state context.  While Ada has not shown an increase, there has not been a significant decrease either, especially given the downward trending context throughout the state.


From November 2015 to 2016, Nonfarm Employment in Oklahoma dropped by 15,500, a decrease of nearly 1%, which caused the state unemployment rate rose from 4.2% to 5.1%. While the rest of the country is experiencing a recovery from the 2008 recession, Oklahoma’s numbers are among the highest in the nation.

Ada’s estimated labor market figures for October show the unemployment rate at 3.9% and the total number of unemployed people at 728 out of a workforce of 18,694. This continues our decade long trend were Ada’s unadjusted unemployment rate is lower than the national, adjusted unemployment rate.  Unemployment rate adjustments take into account regular changes in employment which occur seasonally during the year.  Unadjusted rates tend to be higher and to have greater spikes than adjusted rates.  In fact, Ada’s unemployment rate has only exceeded the U.S. rate twice since October 2004 and both cases can be attributed to the local figures not being seasonally adjusted, as both cases show the preceding and following months below the US rate.

The sectors hit hardest by a decrease in employment across Oklahoma as of Nov 2016 include Mining, Quarrying, and Oil/Gas Extraction; Manufacturing; and Professional Services. The state’s Education and Health Services sector experienced the largest increases in employment. Ada’s industrial sectors with the greatest loss in employment include Government (-224), Manufacturing (-64), and Mining (-50). Education and Health Services showed the largest increase (+122) in Ada’s labor force, followed by Construction (+66) and Accommodations/Food Services (+57).

CHART: Regional Unemployment by Industry (source: EMSI Q4 2016 Data Set)

Over the 12-month period ending in October, the Ada labor force grew by 1.9% while the US labor force grew by 1.7%. The Oklahoma labor force dropped by 1.3%.

Ada’s knowledge-based economy might help insulate the local economy from the statewide recession as it appeared to have done a few years ago with the national recession.  Ada’s economy is fairly diverse and our community boasts one of the highest levels of residents with a college degree in the state.  The local unemployment rate has remained lower and labor force growth continues to be higher than both the state and national figures. While local retail sales receipts have not increased as fast as we would like, spending hasn’t dropped quite as much as other Oklahoma communities.

The investments made in the community over the last decade are starting to show returns.  Ada continues to invest in itself with updated streets, parks, and new public facilities.  With several anticipated and recent announcements, local companies are hiring and new stores are opening. Ada’s future continues to look bright.

Sincerely ~Michael Southard, President and CEO