Almost 86,000 Oklahoman's were without jobs for the month of July this year. But, according to some new figures, things are still looking grim; not only for Oklahoma, but for the country as a whole. Figures from August show the number of Americans without jobs rising for the first time in four years. It's far worse than experts expected especially since they had predicted a growth of 110,000 jobs.
But, while the falling economy and unemployment rates are making headlines across the country, our area is a different story. The recent job loss figures are causing fear in some national economists that the country is heading for a recession and some say we're already in one. In Lawton, though, it seems like everywhere you turn, businesses are popping up and Lt. Governor Jari Askins agrees.
"Southwest Oklahoma is vibrant, it's progressing, and we're working hard not just to sustain the economy that we have, but to build for the future," said Askins. With the arrival of Fort Sill's BRAC, 14,000 new residents are expected to hit our community. Askins is a native of Southwest Oklahoma and said she was delighted to spend the day at Fort Sill where 7News caught up with her.
Lt. Governor Askins says the area's growth is noticeable. She spent part of the morning at Fort Sill and says she's proud of the progress being made. "The opportunity for the entire Southwest region to benefit from that expansion is enormous," she said. And, of course, BRAC isn't the only thing bringing jobs to our area. There's the NLOS Cannon that's coming to Elgin estimated to bring another hundred jobs.
Askins says it's a group effort. "Duncan, Marlow, and Chickasha, all the way over the Altus and Frederick, included in the discussions with Lawton," she said. And yet another new business - a call center based in Lawton is expected to bring an additional 300 work from home jobs. The variety in the available jobs is another positive. "I think Oklahoma, and especially Southwest Oklahoma has worked really hard to keep itself diversified," said Askins.
So, while some could be losing their jobs nationally, 7News is glad to report it's a much different story here where new jobs are pretty much guaranteed. Lt. Governer Askins did say that she was concerned about the state's tourism, though. She's the chair of the Oklahoma Tourism Commission and is worried that the summer's flooding may have taken its toll on the state's tourism revenue.
"We're concerned that we may have to go to the legislature and ask for some help for appropriations because our revenue just was not as strong this summer, because of the flooding," said Askins. Both Memorial Day weekend and around the Fourth of July holiday are typically big tourism days for Oklahoma, but heavy rains put a damper on them. They're still waiting to see how the Labor Day weekend numbers panned out.