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March 8, 2013

Duncan’s future looks bright amidst economic woes

DUNCAN —  

Dr. Mark Snead, an Oklahoma economist, had an almost completely positive message for Duncan leaders at the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation’s Annual Appreciation Banquet.
Snead’s presentation focused on the effects of the recession, which began in 2008, the current conditions of the economy in Stephens County and what the future holds for the area.
“You got hit hard,” Snead said. “The cycle here was really deep. Part of that was because the goods-producing sector really took it on the chin. Construction was hit really hard. Government layoffs were much greater in Stephens County than the rest of the state. Manufacturing and energy contracted somewhat national like somewhat state like. The fifth difference is the rural regions of the state have been grossly underperforming compared to metro areas since the economy slowed in 2008.”
During the recession, the goods and government sectors took a major hit in Stephens County while the services sector did not respond to the recession negatively or positive.
“In essence, it is following a long-term, slow-growth cycle,” Snead said. 
The goods sector, over the past year, has bounced back to what it was before the days of the recession. However, hiring in the government sectors in Stephens County continues to be affected. 
Overall, the unemployment rate within the county continues to show a positive trend. While it did fluctuate at times within the recession, it is currently holding steady at four percent, which was the rate before the recession.
“What happened here that didn’t happen nationally was this rapid return in hiring, this fast bounce back,” Snead said.
Additionally, the participation rate in the job market in Stephens County is creeping up to 50 percent, a positive indicator for Duncan’s economy.
“Duncan, just 10 or 12 years ago, was among the lowest in a low-participation state,” Snead said. “In just the past decade, 10 or 12 years, you have gone from a low-participation rate in a low-participation state to among the highest in the state.” In fact there are just a few small counties with just a few 1,000 jobs ahead of you. You are more approaching what is traditionally considered a high participation rate. Fifty percent is that level where the higher participation rate tends to pay off with a higher standard of living.”

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