By: Erika Stanish – FOX25 – The Oklahoma State Treasurer announced the state’s economy is “rapidly emerging” from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oklahoma State Treasurer Randy McDaniel announced the state’s gross receipts from May 2021 on Tuesday showing total collections in May generated $1.24 billion.
“We’re up 34% from a year ago and that’s great,” McDaniel said. “One of the best indicators of the future has been to look at the great improvement we’ve seen in the employment rate. Overall, we were at 13% a year ago and now we’re down to about 4.3%. So that’s like a great recovery we’ve had in our overall economy.”
“A key industry in our state is the oil and gas industry and it’s great to see that we’ve more than doubled the receipts that received a year ago at this time. A 128% increase is a very substantial binding measurement and we’re looking forward to a prosperous future,” McDaniel said.
“These are remarkable changes. Remarkable percentage changes,” Steve Agee said, Dean and professor at Oklahoma City University.
Agee said during the pandemic, prices for a barrel of oil fell below $20, which sent the demand for energy crashing.
“It was, it was bad. Now, flash forward a year to where we are now in May and June of 2021 things have rebounded and both people getting their COVID shots, and everyone starting to move about more comfortably, we’ve seen an increase in consumption by almost all consumers, and you see that in the numbers from the Oklahoma State Treasurer,” Agee said.
“As we look at the oil and gas industry in particular, we had 50,000 jobs about two years ago. We have rebounded back to about 30,000 jobs and so we’re still down 40%. So, there’s a lot of room for to make up from two years ago we’re moving in the right direction and that’s very positive news,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said collections for the month reflect oil field production in March when oil was about $62 a barrel.
“We’ve had a recovery in the oil and gas industry in terms of demand, people are traveling more, they’re flying more, they’re getting ready to take summer vacations, which means the demand for gasoline and diesel will go up which means the demand for crude oil will go up, which pushes those prices up,” Agee said.
For some oil and gas corporations that filed for bankruptcy during the pandemic, like Chesapeake Energy, Agee said it’s time for a comeback.
“They were forced into bankruptcy because of this horrific drop in oil and gas prices back in March and April and May of 2020. Their revenues simply wouldn’t support the debt structure that they had so they were just almost forced into a reorganization or restructuring through Chapter 11 process,” Agee said. “I think by shedding a lot of the debt that they had through the bankruptcy process that will make their balance sheet stronger it will give them a much better opportunity to be a successful, sustainable ongoing concern going forward.”
The Energy Information Administration reported Tuesday it predicts oil prices will continue to strengthen throughout the rest of the year and oil and gas companies worldwide will begin producing more.
“We’re very thankful that we’ve made it to one of the most difficult periods in recent history and see the activity that’s starting to take place within an open economy is very encouraging and I look forward to the future,” McDaniel said.