What Are The Biggest Industries In Oklahoma?

By Geoffrey Migiro on January 21 2020 in Economics

A scene from rural Oklahoma. Oil pumps and hay bales in the prairie.
A scene from rural Oklahoma. Oil pumps and hay bales in the prairie.

Oklahoma is the twentieth largest American state that is situated in the South Central region of the country. Oklahoma is surrounded by Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and Kansas. The state of Oklahoma was formed in 1907 when the Indian Territory merged with the Oklahoma Territory. Oklahoma became the forty-sixth American state to gain statehood in 1907. Oklahoma was initially set aside for the Indians, and it was referred to as the Indian Territory. However, it was later opened to settlers on April 22, 1889. More than 50,000 people swarmed the region on the opening day, and those who tried to beat the starting gun were referred to as the Sooners, hence Oklahoma's nickname. Oklahoma City is the capital and the largest city in this state. Oklahoma has the highest number of artificial reservoirs in the United States.

The Economy Of Oklahoma

The economy of Oklahoma has not been as balanced as the economy of several American states. Oklahoma's economy was dominated by petroleum and agriculture in the past, but the efforts of the local and state official to diversify their economy were successful. Currently, Oklahoma has a wide range of industries, including telecommunication, food processing, transportation, energy, and aviation, among others. The annual per-capita income of this state is lower than the country's average per-capita income. Oklahoma had the twenty-ninth most significant economy in the United States, with a GDP of about $197.2billion by December 2018. The per-capita GDP of Oklahoma ($44,623) was $5,954 lower than the country's per-capita GDP in 2016. Oklahoma's GDP per-capita was $48,569 in 2017. Oklahoma was listed among the most business-friendly American state in 2007. Oklahoma is home to 4 Fortune-500 firms and 6 Fortune-1000 companies. There were over 1,360,379 total employments in Oklahoma in 2016 and 93,232employer establishments. The unemployment rate of Oklahoma in November 2019 was 3.4% representing the 62,613jobless people.

The Largest Industries In Oklahoma

Agriculture And Forestry

Even though the Oklahoma farms are slightly larger than the country's average, these farms have less value per-acre. The agricultural sector has furnished a significant part of this state's income for centuries now. Oklahoma is the twenty-seventh most agriculturally productive American state. There were 85,500farms in Oklahoma in 2012 which produced less than $1billion in crop output and $4.3billion in animal products. The agricultural sector contributed over $6.1billion to Oklahoma's GDP in 2012. The hard-working farmers of Oklahoma raise and grow the state's crucial products like milk, pecans, rye, wheat, soybeans, hogs, and cattle. The top-5 agricultural commodities in Oklahoma in terms of revenue are dairy products, broilers, wheat, pigs, and calves and cattle. As the fourth top producer of wheat in the country, Oklahoma produces more than 6.1% of the American wheat.

Oklahoma is ranked among the top producers of beef in the United States, which is not surprising since beef cattle production is the leading source of income in this sector. Over 2.2% of American dairy products come from Oklahoma. The state also produces 4.2% of American hog products and 5.5% of American Beef. The second and third biggest agricultural sectors in Oklahoma are poultry and swine, respectively. The forestry industry is quite big in Oklahoma, with less than 20% of its total area being forested. The commercially exploitable timber in the state (softwoods) is harvested in the southeastern parts of Oklahoma.


Over 94% of the electricity in this state in 2009 was generated by non-renewable sources like natural gas and coal, among others. Oklahoma ranked thirteenth in total energy consumption-per-capital in 2009, and it has no nuclear power. Even though Oklahoma was ranked fifth in installed wind-energy capacity in 2011, it ranked low in renewable energy usage. The wind energy and geothermal sources were introduced in Oklahoma during the late-twentieth and late twenty-first centuries, which had the potential to reduce the use of fossil fuel. Oklahoma-Gas-and-Electric Company has 4 electric power plants in this state. 2 of these plants are coal-fired plants, and the 2 others are gas-fired plants.

Natural Resources

Oklahoma ranks high in the United States in the value of minerals produced. Some of the minerals mined in this state include coal, stone, natural gas liquids, natural gas, and petroleum. Oklahoma is the leading producer of Iodine in the country. Gas and oil production has been the main components of this state's economy. Oklahoma has a unique network of pipeline that moves petroleum to the market and refinery in and outside the state.

Oklahoma is the country's third-biggest producer of natural gases and the fifth-largest crude oil producer. Oklahoma has the second-highest number of active drilling-rigs and has the fifth-largest crude oil reserve in the United States. The oil energy sector of Oklahoma contributes over $35billion to the state's GDP, and its employees earn twice the state's normal annual income. Oklahoma had 83,700commercial oil wells in 2009, churning over 65million barrels of crude oil. 8.5% of the natural gas reserve in the country is found in Oklahoma.     


The manufactured products in Oklahoma constitute a small proportion of the state's economy as compared to raw materials production. Oklahoma is one of the leading producers of transportation equipment, industrial machinery, and communications and electronics equipment. The first main commercial paper and pulp plant was established in Oklahoma in 1970. The leading manufacturing sector is the production of machinery, particularly oil field machineries. The second most crucial manufacturing activity is the production of transportation equipment (automobile assembly, and aerospace and aircraft equipment). Other items produced in Oklahoma include plastic and rubber products, processed foods (bakery products, animal feeds, and meat-packing plants), electronic equipment and computers, and fabricated-metal products.  


Oklahoma has a well-developed network of railroads, highways, and roads. The main transportation hubs in Oklahoma are Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Amtrak provides passenger train services between Texas and Oklahoma City and other parts of the state. Oklahoma's main airport (Will-Rogers Airport is situated in Oklahoma City, and some of its regional facilities are in Tulsa and Lawton. There is a barge system in Oklahoma that ferries cargo from Tulsa to the Mexican Gulf via the dams and locks in River Arkansas.

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