Census Shows Improving Personal Income in State

Article excerpt

The latest batch of Census Bureau numbers show Oklahoma has made slow but steady progress in the last decade - poverty is declining, income is growing and more people are finishing college.
The Oklahoma Census 2000 demographic profile tables, unveiled Tuesday, showed that the median household income in Oklahoma grew 8.6 percent from 1990 to 2000 in inflation-adjusted dollars. In 2000, the median household income was $33,400, compared to $30,760 in 1990.
Per capita income rose 13.4 percent over the same period, growing from $15,516 to $17,646.
While a gain of only $2,000 to $3,000 in average income may not seem like much, officials said it represents significant progress.
"Any increase over 10 percent is a nice, good, healthy increase, so yes, I believe we are better off than we were 10 years ago," said Jeff Wallace, director of programs for the Information Management Team at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County both recorded higher median household income than the state as a whole. In Oklahoma City, median household income grew from $33,600 in 1989 to $34,900 in 1999. In Oklahoma County, the median household income grew from $34,100 in 1989 to $35,100 in 1999.
In Oklahoma City, per capita income was $19,098 in 2000, a 41.2 percent increase from $13,528 in 1990.
Full-time male workers in Oklahoma City earned an average of $31,589 in 2000 while full-time female workers earned an average of $24,420. In 1990, the figure was $26,332 for men and $18,981 for women.
During the last decade, the number of Oklahomans living below the poverty line fell from 112,652 to 103,757, a 7.9 percent drop. Overall, the percentage of families living in poverty fell from 13 percent in 1990 to 11.2 percent in 2000. The decline came at a time when the state's total population grew more than 10 percent.
However, the number of families with no husband present living below the poverty line increased 1.6 percent in the last decade, growing from 46,243 in to 46,980.
In Oklahoma City, however, the figures weren't as good - the number of families living in poverty grew 13.7 percent from 14,152 in 1989 to 16,084 in 1999.
Wallace said the majority of average income gain was made in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas or in counties with a university. The worst pockets of poverty continue to remain in rural Oklahoma, he said.
On the education front, the Census showed that 80.6 percent of those 25 years and older in Oklahoma possess at least a high school degree, compared to 74.6 percent in 1990. Individuals with a bachelor's degree or higher represented 20.3 percent of the population in 2000 vs. 17.8 percent in 1990.
In Oklahoma City, the percentage of the population with at least a high school degree rose from 78.2 percent in 1990 to 81. …

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