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New Census Data: Oklahoma Younger, More Hispanic

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma is one of only seven states that grew younger last year, thanks in part to an influx of 20-something oilfield workers, newly-released Census Bureau data shows.

The Sooner State also became slightly more Hispanic, as a higher birthrate within that population group more than offset a leveling-off of new arrivals from Mexico and other countries, Census officials said.

Oklahoma barely made the list of states that managed to reverse the aging process. The median age ticked down to 36.2 years on July 1, 2013, a minuscule 0.007-year reduction from a year earlier.

That means a median-aged Oklahoman was about 2½ days younger last year than his or her counterpart in 2012.

Like Oklahoma, most of the other states where the median age declined are major energy producers. North Dakota led the list with a decline of 0.6 years, followed by Alaska, South Dakota, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming and Oklahoma.

In the other 43 states, the median age increased. The national median rose to 37.6 years from 37.5 in 2012.

“We’re seeing the demographic impact of two booms,” said Census Bureau Director John Thompson.

“The population in the Great Plains energy boom states is becoming younger and more male as workers move in seeking employment in the oil and gas industry, while the U.S. as a whole continues to age as the youngest of the baby boom generation enters their 50s.”

Oklahoma’s Hispanic population, meanwhile, continued to inch upward.

Oklahoma’s 369,646 Hispanics accounted for 9.6 percent of the state’s total population on July 1, 2013. The percentage has risen steadily in recent years. It was 8.8 percent in 2010 and 9.4 percent in 2012.

The Census Bureau noted that nationwide, 78 percent of Hispanic population growth was attributable to “natural increase,” meaning more births than deaths, and only 22 percent to newly-arrived immigrants.

Non-Hispanic whites are still the dominant racial and ethnic group in the state, accounting for 67.5 percent of the total population last year. Hispanic whites were 7.9 percent, Native Americans 9.2 percent, African-Americans 7.7 percent and Asians 2.0 percent. People who classified themselves as “two or more races” made up 5.8 percent of the population.

Because the Census Bureau classifies Hispanic as an ethnicity and not a race, several racial groups include some people who also identify themselves as Hispanic.

Oklahoma’s total population was 3,850,568 last year, the bureau said.

Warren Vieth can be reached at wvieth@oklahomawatch.org

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.
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