Wednesday, March 17, 2010

California Unemployment and Oklahoma’s Growth – It’s the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ in Reverse

Hey, we're doing pretty well here in Oklahoma:
It’s not quite gangbusters, but it shows that the state known more for the Dust Bowl than for economic opportunity has turned itself around in a lot of ways. The Oklahoman’s crack Database Editor Paul Monies put together some visualizations of the differences in population between the Oklahoma of the Great Depression and the the Oklahoma of the Great Recession. His newspaper went on some months later to reflect triumphantly in an editorial:

Time was when Oklahomans fled to California in great numbers, so much so that the Golden State tried to put a stop to it. Now Californians are moving east; some of them are landing in Oklahoma. Cox says that in every year during the 2000s, Oklahoma gained net domestic migrants from California.

So I guess it’s like The Grapes of Wrath in reverse. The Joads have spent a few generations in California and may be wondering if they left a little too much behind on that dusty farmland where their Okie forebears squatted. And with more than 1 in 4 people jobless in Imperial, the county that abuts San Diego County in southern California, the ones going east to destinations like Oklahoma City just might be making the right bet.

All that and we're polite, too.


  1. I don't sense things getting worse out here. We're crossing the bottom of a long, long trough after having fallen spectacularly. The recession started around 2005-06 and so I don't expect things will brighten much a year or two. (7 year cycles and all). I suspect things will start looking up around the time Obama will seek re-election.
    I'm certain that California will go Republican in the Senate (Barring something unforseen, Boxer will lose comfortably no matter who runs and she will retire).

    But we might just be stupid enough to reelect Jerry Brown for Guv.

  2. I don't have your first-hand knowledge, of course, but my take is about the same as yours: things have probably hit bottom and are on their way back up. Oklahoma tends to miss out on the booms as well as the busts.