Behind Oklahoma City’s Booming Economy, Lessons for Up-and-Coming Cities
Oklahoma City has become a go-to place for young, educated workers, whose share of the overall population has vastly increased since 2000 as its economy boomed. But why?
Between 2004 and 2014, some 50,000 people moved to Oklahoma City. What drew them to a city not exactly regarded for its temperate climate? A lot of factors, it turns out, not least among them the metropolitan area’s white-hot economy.
Unlike U.S. metro areas that rely on a single industry to support their overall business sectors, Oklahoma City features a relatively diverse economy that benefits from both public and private investment. Encompassing more than 600 square miles, Oklahoma City is centrally located in the heart of the Great Plains, making it accessible to every major urban economic area in the country.
Oklahoma City has, moreover, a diverse regional economy that has continually evolved over the past few decades. Besides the area’s research institutions—a group that includes the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City University, and Oklahoma State University—the region has a very strong and resilient jobs market. The December metro area unemployment rate of 3.6% was two percentage points below the national average.
What industries employ the most workers in Oklahoma City? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, after first-place mining and lodging, construction, manufacturing, and trade, transportation, and utilities round out the top job-creating sectors. Coupled with the region’s low cost of living—an estimated 17% below the national average—Oklahoma City makes a strong case for being one of the nation’s up-and-coming urban economic centers. Stay tuned for more insights into this top-notch locale in our Silicon Cities series.
This is the second installment of our multi-part, year-long #SiliconCitiesUSA Series
Over the course of this year, we’ll explore how entrepreneurs and businesses are faring in non-major U.S. cities, beginning with Des Moines, Iowa. We’ll be reporting on the ground from each city, talking with elected officials and business leaders about how they’re harnessing their unique resources and local talent to fuel economic growth and better compete against more established urban centers like San Francisco and New York City.