Who is Tulsa? Compared to similar metro areas in the region, she's less educated, probably older and perhaps a little less likely to be struggling to find work.
That's part of the story presented in a little-heralded report that came out more than a year ago, Tulsa Benchmarks.
"I don't think we're measuring quality of life exactly. I think there are some social variables, but a lot of it is economic," said J. Markham Collins, a University of Tulsa professor and the principal investigator for the study.
The project is touted on the university's website as "built on an ongoing research initiative of the Tulsa City Government and University of Tulsa," but the city has not provided funding for the study.
"I think there's a couple of conclusions that we drew," Collins said. "If we wanted to have a more dynamic city, we had to put more emphasis on young people and probably on education."
The report included data through 2010, but the recent release of some 2012 data allows for an update on at least some of the categories put together by Collins and his team.
The most recent numbers don't show much change, with Tulsa still trailing cities like Austin, Omaha and, yes, Oklahoma City in several key areas. The data reflects analysis of metro area populations, which include suburbs of cities.
Peers identified as "regional competitors" in the Tulsa Benchmarks report are: St. Louis, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Austin, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Omaha, Little Rock, Wichita and Shreveport.
Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau
In the benchmarks report, the Tulsa metro area ranked tenth out of 12 metro areas in the percentage of residents 25 and over with at least a bachelor's degree.
Averaging U.S. Census survey data from 2006-2010, for example, exactly one out of four Tulsa-area residents over 25 had at least a bachelor's degree.
"The gap between Tulsa's 25 percent and the top three cities, all above 30 percent, is even more challenging," the report states.
Update: While Tulsa's percentage of college graduates increased to an estimated 26.2 percent in 2012, it hasn't changed the metro area's ranking.
That's because most of the other peer cities have also increased their educational attainment. In both 2011 and 2012, Census data showed that more than 40 percent of the Austin population had a bachelor's degree. Three metro areas -- Omaha, Kansas City and St. Louis -- reportedly had more than 30 percent of their population with a bachelor's degree.
And Tulsa seems well-established as a member of the back of the pack. Examining population data for Tulsa's peer metro areas from 2011 and 2012, 29.9 percent on average had a bachelor's degree. The median percentage was 28.7, still well above the number for Tulsa's population with a four-year degree.
In the benchmarks report, Tulsa ranked 11th when measuring the percentage of population in their prime working years, the 20-64 age group. While the report noted that retirees can inject dollars into an economy, it also noted that Tulsa had the lowest retirement income among the peer cities -- so "Tulsa's retirement population may not be driving growth."Update: Tulsa again ranks 11th in this measure, with 58.6 percent of the 2012 population ranging in age from 20-64. Five metro areas had 60 percent or more of their population in this age group, with Austin at the top of the list with 63.5 percent of that metro area's population falling within this age group.
In the benchmarks report, Tulsa had one of the lowest unemployment rates compared to peer cities, ranking third.
Coming off the recent economic recession, Tulsa seemed to fare OK compared to its peers.
"From 2006 to 2010, Tulsa's unemployment level rose by 3.9%, placing it in the middle of the group. However, the most current data (through August 2011) shows Tulsa as a much stronger city relative to this measure," the report stated.
Update: Tulsa continues to have a lower unemployment rate compared to "regional competitors," again ranking third in 2012. The data also shows how unemployment has improved for all the cities since 2010, when only one city -- Omaha -- had an unemployment rate below 6 percent. In 2012, four cities had an unemployment rate that low.
The benchmarks report described Tulsa as ranking fifth overall in 2009 in net migration, a measure of population growth. Looking at the average from 2006 through 2009, Tulsa ranked sixth, leading report authors to conclude that "Tulsa's growth based on net migration is on par with other regional cities."
Update: There doesn't seem to be much change in this statistic over the last two years. Last year, Tulsa ranked sixth among peer cities with a positive net migration of 2,081 people. Three metro areas far outpaced the population growth of the other cities in 2012: Austin (net migration of 35,765), Fort Worth (18,722) and Oklahoma City (12,681).
Robyn Undieme helped put together the original benchmarks report at a TU grad student. Now, she works for the city as part of the Management Review Office.
"This type of data is good qualitative data to have and to know, but it's difficult to apply and make significant changes in the short-term," Undieme said, describing Mayor Dewey Bartlett as having "a strong interest" in the original study.
While it's difficult to pinpoint how the study influenced policy, she said it is important to understand how Tulsa compares to other cities.
"You have to be strategic and really thinking what are the influencing factors that are going to impact this area," Undieme said.
The benchmarks study included an analysis of several more categories -- including annual wages and the number of professional and creative jobs in Tulsa. Collins said a full update is in the works and could be published as soon as mid-December.
"I think it was really intended to be information and data that decision-makers could use to help make their plans," Collins said.
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