LIVE WELL: TSET encourages Oklahomans to complete census by deadline

Population and demographic information from the census shape funding decisions across government

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust encourages Oklahomans to complete the census by the Sept. 30 deadline. In addition to determining federal funding to Oklahoma, population and demographic information provided by the census informs TSET’s statewide programming decisions.

“Information from the census and other surveys is critical in designing effective and efficient programs,” said Julie Bisbee, TSET executive director. “Data from the census helps us know where the needs are. Accurate population counts and demographics are essential in determining where to market TSET programs that help Oklahomans improve their health. The better the information we have, the better we can serve the people of Oklahoma.”

Currently, the state lags behind the national average in response rates with only about 58% of residents completing the census so far.

“Parts of our state that could benefit the most from additional resources, particularly in rural Oklahoma, appear to be the most underrepresented,” Bisbee said. “The next six weeks are critical for Oklahoma – our state’s participation in the census will impact us for the next decade.”  

The 10-question census survey takes less than 15 minutes to finish and can be completed online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020. Census employees are also helping individuals complete the survey in-person at their homes. As of Aug. 11, the national response rate for the 2020 Census was 63.4%. Oklahoma’s 58% response rate puts it in 41st place.

A report from the U.S. Census Bureau found that funding for public services was a top motivator for people to complete the census, but that only 45% of respondents knew that the census was used to determine how much government funding communities received.

The census provides local population statistics and demographic data such as age, race and gender that health care providers use to identify trends that might indicate future opportunities.

The results will inform how federal funding for programs such as Medicaid, Head Start, community mental health services and food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Business owners also rely on this data results to make decisions, such as where to open new stores, restaurants, factories, or offices, where to expand operations or recruit employees.

“The Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s OK, Let’s Count initiative is doing an excellent job of getting the word out about the census effort,” Bisbee said. “We encourage Oklahomans to participate and boost Oklahoma’s response rate.”

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. To learn more, visit TSET.ok.gov.

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I counted!

The Census determines how much funding and services our towns and cities receive each year for the next decade. Everyone counts. And I just did.

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