- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Low oil and natural gas prices helped push last month’s state revenue below last year’s levels, but Oklahoma’s state treasurer said Wednesday the worst is likely over.

Treasurer Ken Miller said the state’s gross receipts in June fell slightly below $1 billion and were 3.9 percent less than in June of last year. Collections from the production of oil and natural gas dropped more than 54 percent below the prior year.

“The state economy is certainly feeling the impact of the oil price downturn,” Miller said. June collections marked the second consecutive month and the fourth time in the fiscal year that ended on June 30 that revenue collections fell below the prior year.

“Gross production numbers have been below prior year collections for six consecutive months, and it appears we are seeing spill over into other revenue streams, especially motor vehicle and sales tax collections,” Miller said.

But Miller said he is optimistic that oil prices have finally leveled off and are rebounding from the low of $45 per barrel recorded in late January. Prices are currently hovering around $60.

“Most industry leaders would say the worst is behind us and price recovery is on the way,” Miller said. “Most would agree that we’ve hit our bottom and we’re going to rebound from here.”

Miller said state sales tax collections, which are viewed as an indicator of consumer confidence, dipped below the prior year in June for the third time in four months. Miller said the purchase of big-ticket items tend to decline when the economy contracts.

“They tend to slow down when expectations grow dim,” Miller said.

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate rose slightly in May to 4.3 percent but still remains below the national unemployment rate of 5.5 percent.

“Most economists would say that’s full employment,” the treasurer said.

For the previous fiscal year, state revenue was slightly less than $12 billion, about 2.5 percent higher than collections from the previous fiscal year. Collections form oil and gas production during the year brought in about $698 million, down almost 19 percent from the previous year.

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