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Oklahoma population grew almost 9 percent since 2000

With 3.75 million people, Oklahoma added more than 300,000 residents in the last decade, but its growth rate was lower than the nation. The state will remain at five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
BY PAUL MONIES Modified: January 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm •  Published: December 21, 2010

Oklahoma's population grew by almost 9 percent in the last decade as the state added 300,000 residents, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday.

The latest population count meant Oklahoma had 3,751,351 residents on April 1. That's up from 3,450,654 people in the 2000 Census. The state slipped one place in the rankings and is now the 28th-largest in the nation.

Oklahoma has shown a healthy rate of growth during the last decade, said Deidre Myers, director of research and economic analysis with the state Commerce Department. Those coming to the state have been attracted by stable home prices and a low cost of living.

“Oklahoma has had sustainable growth,” Myers said. “We haven't had bubbles like Nevada or Arizona, which causes problems with infrastructure and other things. We haven't been experiencing decline like the states with economic woes.

“Our growth patterns fall right in line with the kind of economic growth and wage growth we've had.”

Nationally, the country added 27.3 million people between 2000 and 2010. The nation's population was 308.7 million on April 1, up from 281.4 million a decade ago. That reflected a growth rate of 9.7 percent, the slowest rate since 1940.

California, with 37.2 million people, continues to be the country's most populous state. At the other end of the scale, Wyoming is the least populous state with 563,000 people.

Along with state and national population totals, the Census Bureau released the latest numbers of seats for each state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Under that process — called apportionment — Oklahoma remained at five House seats. The state lost a seat after the 2000 Census.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said redrawing congressional districts in Oklahoma likely would be a lot less contentious than a decade ago. That process ended up in court because then-Gov. Frank Keating, a Republican, and the Democrats in the Legislature disagreed on the boundaries.

“It won't be a ‘life-or-death situation' like we had in 2001 and 2002,” Cole said.

“Of course, the final decisions lie with the Legislature and the governor.”

Cole said he expects minor changes among existing congressional district boundaries.

“The current lines generally make a lot of sense,” Cole said. “They don't split many counties, and where they do, there are good reasons like including military installations.”

8 states gain seats

Texas was the big winner in the latest apportionment, gaining four seats in the House to bring it to 36 seats. Florida added two seats. The Rust Belt states of New York and Ohio each lost two seats. In all, 18 states will trade 12 House seats ahead of the 2012 elections.

Keith Gaddie, a redistricting expert and political science professor at the University of Oklahoma, said the south and west continue to be winners in both population gains and political power.

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