April 22, 2008

Oklahoma Unemployment Is Way Down. Will Media Look into Why?

April 23 Follow-up: “More on Oklahoma’s Employment Situation: A Graphic I Wanted to Steal.


Oklahoma’s unemployment rate, which was a seasonally adjusted 4.3% and 4.4%, respectively, in September and October 2007 (4.1% and 4.2% unadjusted), has fallen to a seasonally adjusted 3.1% in both February and March of this year (3.5% and 3.2% unadjusted).

The unemployment rate in most states has gone up from September 2007 to March 2008. In states where the rate has gone down, none has shown an improvement like that seen in the Sooner State — not even close.

Why is that?

What has happened in Oklahoma that hasn’t happened elsewhere?

Well, one thing Oklahoma did last year was to pass an enforcement-focused immigration reform law. It did so in May, and it took effect in November. Here is how One News Now described the bill at the time it was signed by the state’s governor (original link no longer available):

House Bill 1804 was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate of the Oklahoma Legislature. The measure’s sponsor, State Representative Randy Terrill, says the bill has four main topical areas: it deals with identity theft; it terminates public assistance benefits to illegals; it empowers state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws; and it punishes employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.

Oklahoma is no longer “O.K.” for illegal aliens, Terrill observes. “When you put everything together in context,” he contends, “the bottom line is illegal aliens will not come here if there are no jobs waiting for them, they will not stay here if there is no government subsidy, and they certainly won’t stay here if they know that if they ever encounter our state and local law enforcement officers, they will be physically detained until they’re deported. And that’s exactly what House Bill 1804 does.”

The Oklahoma legislator is pleased the bill he sponsored into law was signed by Governor Henry and believes it will go a long way to curb the illegal immigration problem in the state.

It seems reasonable to ask if the law has accomplished the intended curbing of illegal immigration. This January 9 USA Today article by Emily Bazar (“Strict immigration law rattles Okla. businesses”) indicates that it has — not that Bazar thinks that this is a good thing.

The next question to ask would be whether citizens have taken jobs that illegals used to do. Though the lower unemployment rate doesn’t in and of itself prove that, it does point strongly in that direction.

The improving employment situation in the state has received sparse coverage, and the only two relevant stories I found (here and here) did not attempt to explain why it’s happening.

Will anyone in Old Media dig more deeply into the Sooner State’s situation? Or will they try to pretend that Oklahoma’s improvement doesn’t exist, because finding out why might expose some inconvenient truths, and hurt the cause of illegal-immigrant “amnesty”?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.



  1. Actually Tom, it would be instructive for our readers to know what states besides Arizona and Oklahoma have passed legislation allowing the police to call ICE when they take an illegal into custody in addition to other laws like Ok’s.

    How about South Dakota? Their unemployment rate has fallen to 2.5%. Rather low for an economic slow down don’t you think?

    Comment by dscott — April 22, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  2. Here are two nice links from BLS on State unemployment rankings

    By State: http://www.bls.gov/web/laumstrk.htm

    By Metro area: http://www.bls.gov/web/laummtrk.htm
    Note the very high double digit unemployment areas are mostly CA where the sanctuary city movement is fully entrenched. Hey, Arnold, what ya going to do? Raise taxes on Hollywood celebs to feed all the citizens who can’t get jobs because you gave those jobs to illegals? I have to wonder how big the TANF and food stamp rolls are swelling just to accommodate the largess of the sanctuary city movement.

    Comment by dscott — April 22, 2008 @ 11:56 am

  3. 2006 State Legislation Related to Immigration: Enacted, Vetoed, and Pending Gubernatorial Action http://www.ncsl.org/programs/immig/06immigenactedlegis2.htm
    Has a run down on states and various laws recently enacted.

    2007 – http://www.ncsl.org/print/immig/2007Immigrationfinal.pdf

    Of course the libs aren’t happy about it: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/04/11/fear-and-bigotry-in-missouri-immigration-legislation

    Comment by dscott — April 22, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

  4. I think he is saying it is at least worth looking into by some MSM outlets.

    Comment by Ben Keeler — April 22, 2008 @ 5:15 pm

  5. #1-2-3, thanks for the links. I blogrolled the BLS ones for future ref.

    CA welfare rolls are I believe up a bit during the last two months available (Aug and Sept 07) the last time I checked.

    Missouri is an interesting test because IIRC their unemployment has shot up.

    As to SD, I think it’s been low for a while. There is (maybe was) a lot of meatpacking there that I thought had a lot of illegal workers in the late 1990s (true in Nebraska too), so it may be that the raids of 18-24 months or so ago worked to lower unemployment in those two states.

    Comment by TBlumer — April 22, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

  6. http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecentersb8ca

    I wanted to see if there was a correlation between the number of illegals in a state versus it’s unemployment rate.

    The top ten states with illegals (2007 latest estimate) from the FAIR website is against March 2008 unemployment rate (assumes similar population of illegals in both years):

    State # illegals unemployment rate
    CA 3,470,000 6.2%
    TX 1,740,000 4.3%
    NY 1,110,000 4.8%
    FL 810,000 4.9%
    IL 775,000 5.5%
    NJ 490,000 4.8%
    GA 440,000 5.3%
    AZ 475,000 4.0%
    NC 385,000 5.2%
    CO 270,000 4.4%

    I don’t see a direct correlation given that the high unemployment states of MI, DC, AR, RI, NV, SC & MS are not equally burdened with illegals. Then again I could have done more research to see how the percentage of illegals to citizens population stacks up. I see according to FAIR there are only an estimated 5,000 illegals which would indicate very little competition for jobs and thus the low unemployment.

    Comment by dscott — April 22, 2008 @ 9:01 pm

  7. 5,000 illegals in SD, South Dakota

    Comment by dscott — April 22, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

  8. #6, you need to take it as a % of total population, as you noted, which makes Cali seem to be the worst offender (though based on an eyeball look and going from memory, IL and NJ seem to be giving it competition).

    If IL, NJ and CA are indeed the worst, which appears to be the case, the “correlation” is between union-dominated Dem-dominated states (sorry Arnold) and the tolerance of an economy-draining high proportion of illegals.

    Comment by TBlumer — April 22, 2008 @ 9:29 pm

  9. .

    Hi, check this out for visual illustration of your point.

    Watch the state of OKLAHOMA light up like an island of salvation in the darkness at the end of this sequence of 13 panels showing changes in unemployment for March 2007 through March 2008.


    OR short link to same:


    Comment by Bill from Maryland — April 23, 2008 @ 3:44 am

  10. #9, I did a new post this morning that linked to that graph. Wow.

    Comment by TBlumer — April 23, 2008 @ 8:22 am

  11. I looked at the illegal numbers in terms of population but while there is a tendency for high illegal % to have high unemployment, there no bullet proof corellation. Not even on the Red/Blue divide. My guess would be without having done an extensive study, would be to think that each state has it own demographic in terms of unskilled labor as a percent of the workforce. I would assume the higher numbers of unskilled positions would attract some proportionate amount of illegals given they are ususally unskilled to semi skilled. Also the disparity of unemployment percentages may reflect the strong tie of generous social programs making it seem too enticing to stay in an high unemployment area and not relocate to a low unemployment area. You have 15 states with rates less than 4%, one would think this would be a significant draw for the unemployed of the 18 states above 5% unemployment. Without information on current net outflows of each state this would be hard to confirm.

    Comment by dscott — April 23, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

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