TULSA, Ok - The downturn in prices of oil and gas is taking a toll on Oklahoma’s economy.
Layoffs, cutbacks, and a state budget deficit of $1 billion is causing alarm and concern among legislators, business owners, and industry workers.
And it may not get better anytime soon.
“A lot of people will go back and talk about how bad things were in the early 1980’s,” University of Tulsa Professor of Energy Economics Tom Seng told KRMG. “I think this is worse,” Seng went on.
“There’s a whole lot more pain this time because in the ensuing years, many people billion and billions of dollars of investment in oil and gas exploration and production,” Seng pointed out.
With the nation’s crude oil stores at an 80 year high, Seng believes a turnaround won’t be fast.
However, the news isn’t all bad.
Diversification and new startup companies like Steven Tackett’s “Audio Planet” provide the state a chance to bounce back. What is The Audio Planet? “It’s an app for the television and film industry” Tackett explained. The app allows anyone access to leading post-production audio work for television, movies, and video.
Tackett is from Tulsa but that’s not the key in opening the business here instead of Hollywood. “Your dollar if going to be worth at least 1-4 here as in Los Angeles and 1-6 in Silicon Valley” he explained. Steven also likes the leadership coming from the area in tech-related fields.
“You’ve got people like George Kaiser and Taylor-Loebeck building 36 degrees North, this hub of tech and start-up,” Tackett told us. “If a billionaire is behind the tech start-up in Tulsa, that’s a good bet,” he concluded.
While entrepreneurs like Tackett start new others are starting over.
“I’m one of the about 250-300 who have been laid off in the last six-months,” Ron Smith told KRMG. Smith worked for a company that supplies air coolers used by oil and gas companies. “This rolled all the way back to the manufacturing part of it,” Ron added. “It’s just really hard to swallow,” Ron said as he begins looking for work.
No one can predict when things will improve, but Oklahoma has weathered storms before and most believe it will again.