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 BizzyBlog.com.