While no city is ever completely immune to downturns in the economy, Forbes recently named Oklahoma City the most recession-proof city in the U.S. Crediting a strong housing market and falling unemployment rate, Forbes says that Oklahoma City is “best positioned to ride out the current crisis."
Forbes examined key indicators in the nation’s top 50 metro areas to determine which are least vulnerable to a recessionary economy. In addition to unemployment and industry data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of February 2008, Forbes considered real estate figures from the National Association of Realtors and gross product projections from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Other cities on Forbes’ recession-proof list include San Antonio, Austin, San Jose, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Houston, Seattle, Charlotte, and Dallas.
Oklahoma City is proud of its recent distinction. “The City has a strong history of and commitment to conservative financial management by the Mayor, City Council, as well as by the City’s management,” according to Laura Johnson, Oklahoma City’s Finance Director.
"Tough decisions are made every year to present a balanced budget that positions the city to deal with economic downturns so that when these downturns occur, the effect on service levels is minimized,” she says.
The energy sector – supported by companies including Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy – has served the City well, driving both wage and job growth.
In 1993, the City adopted an innovative economic development program called Metropolitan Area Projects, or MAPS. A temporary one-cent sales tax (which expired in 1999) was used to fund several renovation projects in downtown Oklahoma City – including a new stadium, public library, convention center and fairgrounds – on a pay-as-you-go-basis.
According to Laura Johnson, the economic impact of these improvements is just short of $1 billion, with another $1.1 billion slated for future projects.
We concur with her sentiment that “the citizens, along with visionary leaders of the past and present, deserve a lot of credit for their investment in the City through the MAPS program,” and congratulate the City on its number-one ranking.