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Oklahoma census: Population growth, declines will have political ramifications

Suburban county growth and rural county declines from the latest census data will mean big changes for Oklahoma legislative district boundaries.
BY PAUL MONIES Published: February 16, 2011

Rapid growth in suburban counties and declines in southeastern and western Oklahoma in the last decade will have political implications when state legislators redraw the lines for districts this year.

More than 50 of Oklahoma's 77 counties grew in the last decade as the state's overall population grew 8.7 percent to 3,751,351 people, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday.

They were led by Canadian County, which grew by 32 percent to more than 115,500 people. On the eastern border of Tulsa County, both Rogers and Wagoner counties grew by more than 23 percent since 2000.

At the other end of the scale, 23 Oklahoma counties suffered population losses. They included the Panhandle's Cimarron County, which fell by more than 21 percent to 2,475 residents.

Jackson County in the southwest part of the state had the biggest numerical loss. That county lost almost 2,000 people, a drop of 7 percent. It now has 26,446 residents.

Oklahoma County remained the state's most populous county, growing 8.8 percent to 718,633 people. Tulsa County now has 603,403 people, a growth rate of 7.1 percent.

The numbers from Census 2010 are the first detailed look at population, race and ethnicity for many areas, including counties, cities and congressional districts.

Metro-area growth

Steve Barker, senior research analyst with the state Commerce Department, said the state's metropolitan areas showed good growth in the last decade. They were led by the Oklahoma City metro area, which grew 14.4 percent. The Tulsa metro area grew 9.1 percent, and Lawton's metro area grew 7.9 percent.

“What's interesting about the Lawton growth is that it came after population estimates for the last several years had been looking at flat growth,” Barker said.

For the state's two largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa headed in opposite directions. Oklahoma City grew 14.6 percent to almost 580,000 residents. Tulsa, meanwhile, suffered a slight loss of 0.3 percent and had 391,906 residents.

Overall, cities and towns across Oklahoma grew by 9.5 percent since 2000. That was in line with city growth nationally in the last decade, Barker said. Oklahoma's unincorporated areas — or what most people call rural areas — grew 6.4 percent in the last decade.

“Plain and simple, we've seen some good business relocations and expansions taking place here recently in Oklahoma,” Barker said. “Some of these businesses bring employees with them. Other new residents are attracted by our strong business and employment markets.”

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