Capitol Watch: What New Census Data Means for Oklahoma
Monday, August 16, 2021
What the New Census Data Means for Oklahoma
By Trevor Brown | Capitol / Investigative Reporter
Oklahoma lawmakers will represent a much more diverse, urban, and larger population than in the past.
New census data released Thursday reveals that Oklahoma has increased its population by more than 200,000 over the past decade. This growth was hardly uniform.
As the map (above) shows, many rural counties have lost a significant portion of their population over the past decade. But growth in the metro areas, namely Oklahoma City and Tulsa, more than offset those losses.
After jumping on a Thursday press conference hosted by the Census Bureau, another big takeaway that caught my eye was just how racially the state has changed.
In 2010, more than two-thirds of the state (68.7%) identified as white alone. New census figures show that percentage dropped to 60.8% in 2020. This is largely due to an increase in the number of people identifying with two or more races. The number of people identifying as Latino or Hispanic was also on the rise.
Myself and the rest of Oklahoma Watch staff (including Rebecca Najera and Lionel Ramosour new report for American journalists who focus on race and equality) plan to dig deeper into the findings in the weeks and months ahead.
The long-awaited census data isn’t just important for illustrating new trends in the state’s racial, geographic, and socioeconomic demographics.
It will also be used by lawmakers to finish redrawing the state’s congressional districts in a special session scheduled for later this year.
The Legislative Assembly redistributed legislative districts based on preliminary figures earlier this year. But they may make changes or modifications, depending on what new information shows.
What interests you most about census data or how lawmakers will use it? As always, email me your thoughts or questions at [email protected] or find me on Twitter at @tbrownokc and your feedback could help shape our next cover.