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Deadline For Completing Census Is Sept, 30 As Oklahomans Lag National Average And Brent Kisling, Oklahoma Commerce Department, Explains Why It Is Important To Respond

Tue, 18 Aug 2020 10:07:39 CDT

Deadline For Completing Census Is Sept, 30 As Oklahomans Lag National Average And Brent Kisling, Oklahoma Commerce Department, Explains Why It Is Important To Respond The deadline for responding to the 2020 Census is September 30 and Brent Kisling, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, says getting Oklahomans to complete the census forms is their major focus today.

Kisling was interviewed this week by Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays and provided an update on the census.

The census, which occurs every ten years, has been a top priority of the Stitt Administration since the election last year, Kisling said.

Gov. Stitt appointed Kisling the chairman of the state census committee last summer, but the commerce department has been involved in the census long before that date.

Kisling said the department spent most of 2019 working on the data, making sure everyone had a viable address for the U.S. Census Bureau.

We actually lead the nation in the number of addresses added to the data base in 2019, Kisling said.

The 2020 Census is the first time in history you can fill out the census online and Kisling encouraged everyone to go to okletscount.org

You can view that page by clicking here.

It has all the resources you might need to complete the census, Kisling said.

If you got something in the mail it contains a code that will help you, he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed things significantly for the census taking.

We had a partnership with libraries for those who needed access to a computer and the Internet, he said.

Fortunately, Oklahoma had a plan in place before the pandemic that will help.

We approached the census much like a political campaign as we had a chairman in each county, Kisling said.

It there was a problem where people couldn't access the Internet in a county, we brought in mobile units and had partners to help, he said.

The state really came together to solve a problem, he said.

However, the state lags the national average for completing the census.

We are 41st in the nation in our response rate as 58 percent of Oklahoma families have responded, he said. The national average is 63 percent.

The fortunate thing is in 2010 Oklahoma was 48th in the nation, so there is some improvement.

The deadline is September 30 and Kisling said they are asking everyone to help.

It effects our federal funding and representation in Washington, D.C. and Oklahoma City, he said.

Kisling said there are census workers going door to door to "update and leave" information for residents.

If there is no response, enumerators will come see how many people live in your home.

The original deadline to respond was July 31 but now it has moved to September 30.

If you have not responded by then you will not be counted and it will have an impact for the next 10 years, he said.

Failing to comply can get expensive as Kisling estimates it costs $1,700 per person per year. This is a result of being undercounted and not qualifying for government support.

You can go online and see what it costs if you are undercounted, he said. For a city like Tulsa if they are undercounted it could cost over a billion dollars over ten years.

The U.S. Census is estimating Oklahoma's population at 3.95 million people, but we think it is at least 4 million people, Kisling said.

I hope folks won't fear the process, Kisling said.

There are 9 questions and there is probably more information on people's social media accounts, he said.

He emphasized the census has an extremely secure database.

In addition to the census, the Commerce Department is working on improving the unemployment rate.

We are at 6.6 percent today and that is 6th in the nation, he said.

We have more companies on our list wanting to move to Oklahoma than we have had in at lease five years, he said.

The challenge is in the oil fields.

The tough thing now is a lot of the support programs to help a small business but there are few things out there to support the oil and gas business, Kisling said.

To more of Ron's interview with Brent Kisling, click on the listen bar below.


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