As Okla. Census Committee Forms, Challenges Are On Horizon

Friday, August 30th 2019, 8:57 am
By: Grant Hermes

The Governor is optimistic the state’s new 20-member Census committee will have what they need to get the job done but they will face some hurdles to get over before next year.

Large numbers of Oklahomans risk being under-counted or not counted at all. About a third of Oklahomans live in rural areas which can make it difficult for census takers to reach them, According to census data from 2017.

This is also the first time the Census Bureau is asking for a majority of Americans to return their forms online but nearly one in five Oklahomans don't have reliable access to the internet.

Children in poverty and the homeless are chronically undercounted or not counted all together in each Census.

About 20 percent of Oklahoma children live in homes below the poverty line and the number of people considered homeless in the state comes in just over 3800, according to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.

An accurate count in the census means millions of dollars in federal money can be effectively directed to Oklahoma to help run more than 300 programs statewide, according to the state Department of Commerce, a point the department's data director made clear in a statement.

"These programs impact the state, tribal nations and our local communities in many aspects of our lives including education, healthcare, housing, and transportation among others," Jon Chiappe, Director of Research & Economic Analysis at Commerce said.

The census isn't officially sent out until April 1, 2020 but the Census Bureau is already hiring. As of just a few weeks ago hundreds of census taker positions still needed to be filled.