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Is Oklahoma Better Off? AN ECONOMIC UPDATE: HOW OKLAHOMA HAS FARED UNDER BUSH As Bush continues his marathon tour to elect a rubber-stamp, Republican congress, key indicators show that Bush and the Republicans’ failure to lead on the economy has had a detrimental affect on the people of Oklahoma. Under Bush the economy has lost more than 2.1 million private sector jobs and for the first time in 50 years the annual growth rate in private sector jobs has declined. In Oklahoma alone, 21,900 people who had jobs 2 years ago are now unemployed and workers have watched their 401(k)s dwindle. Are the people of Oklahoma better off than 2 years ago? Key Statistics for Oklahoma Under Bush: • 21,900 more workers have become unemployed and the state unemployment rate has increased by 1.3 percent. • 24,300 workers in Oklahoma are in jeopardy of losing their unemployment benefits. • 401(k)s in Oklahoma have lost $1.79 billion in value out of $176 billion nationally. Budget: The Federal Surplus Has Evaporated Bush Has Presided Over 94 Percent Decline in the Surplus; $5.3 Trillion Gone. In January 2001, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected a strong budget situation with large surpluses. Over the ten year period from 2002-2011 the surplus was expected to be $5.6 trillion. In August 2002, CBO reported that the ten year surplus had fallen by 94 percent and that the federal government will run deficits through 2005. [CBO, Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2002-2011, January 2001; CBO, Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update, Table 1.1, August 2002; CBPP Fact Sheet, 9/3/02, http://www.cbpp.org/9-3-02bud.htm] Workers: Unemployment is Skyrocketing; Insufficient Benefits Oklahoma’s Unemployment Rate Increased 1.3 Percent during Bush’s Presidency, 21,900 More Unemployed. Since Bush took office in January 2001, Oklahoma’s unemployment rate increased by 1.3 percent. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate was 4.2 in September 2002 and there were 21,900 more unemployed people in Oklahoma in September, a 45 percent increase in the state’s unemployed since the start of the Bush presidency. Moreover, national long-term unemployment, workers unemployed for more than 26 weeks, has doubled since Bush took office, from 648,000 in January 2001 to 1,474,000 in August 2001. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov] Almost 25,000 Workers in Oklahoma are in Jeopardy of Losing Unemployment Benefits. In March 2002, as part of its stimulus legislation to combat the recession, Congress extended unemployment compensation for workers who have exhausted their regular benefits. The new law created the Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program to administer the benefits, which expires on December 28, 2002. However, a recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that further assistance is needed. Nationwide, more than 3.1 million workers will be affected if Congress fails to extend the TEUC program; in Oklahoma, 24,300 workers will be affected. [CBPP Fact Sheet, “The Price of Inaction, 10/1/02, http://www.cbpp.org/10-1-02ui.htm] Number of Workers Exhausting Regular Unemployment Benefits Has Increased 156 Percent in Oklahoma. The number of workers who exhausted regular unemployment benefits in the six month period between March and August 2002 has increased by 156 percent over the same period in 2000. In 2002, 14,870 Oklahoma workers exhausted benefits compared with 5,813 workers in 2000. [CBPP Fact Sheet, 9/25/02, http://www.cbpp.org/9-25-02ui.htm] Savings: 401 (k) and Pension Funds Drastically Depleted Oklahoma Workers Lost Almost $1.8 Billion in 401(k) savings in 2001; Bush Pension Bill Offers Weak Reforms. According to an analysis by the Institute for America’s Future, Oklahoma workers lost $1.79 billion in 401(k) savings between 2000 and 2001. Nationwide, $176 billion in 401(k) savings were lost. These figures are expected to increase because the analysis does not include losses accumulated in 2002. At the same time, Bush and the House Republicans support a weak pension reform bill. The New York Times said, “the House last week passed a so-called pension reform bill that might actually encourage companies to drop lower-paid employees from pension plans to direct even more resources to top executives. Employees lose, the chief executive wins.” [Campaign For America’s Future, Retirement Security Crisis in the States, 9/23/02, http://www.ourfuture.org; H.R. 3762, Roll Call Vote #92, 4/11/02, http://thomas.loc.gov; SAP on H.R. 3762, 4/11/02, http://www.whitehouse.gov; Editorial, New York Times, 4/14/02] Corporate Scandals Cost State Pension Funds at Least $6 Billion. Fallout from the recent spate of corporate scandals cost state pension funds across the country a total of at least $6.44 billion. Oklahoma’s pension funds lost $81.8 million as a result of falling stock and bond prices from corporate scandals under Bush. [American Family Voices, “The Cost of Corporate Recklessness,” 10/02, http://www.americanfamilyvoices.com] Health Care: Increasing Number of Uninsured More than 18 Percent of Oklahoma Residents were Uninsured in 2001, Number Expected to Rise in Coming Years. In 2001, the number of Americans without health insurance increased by 1.4 million to a total of 41.6 million. In Oklahoma 18.3 percent (620,000) were uninsured in 2001. According to Families USA, “The increased number of uninsured Americans is a forerunner of much larger increases to come. The confluence of four factors-much higher health care costs, employers passing on more of these costs to their workers, unemployment growth, and state cutbacks in Medicaid programs-all but guarantees that the number of uninsured people will skyrocket in the next few years.” [Census Bureau, Historical Health Insurance Tables, Table HI-4, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins.html; Families USA Statement, 9/30/02, http://www.familiesusa.org]
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