The deadline to complete the 2020 Census is Sept. 30, and Oklahoma is behind when it comes to response rates.
Less than 60% of households in the state have responded, compared with almost 66% nationwide. In 2000, 64% of Oklahoma households responded, and the state still lost a seat in Congress.
Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman said if the census misses just one in 100 Oklahomans, the state is leaving $720 million in federal funding on the table over the next decade.
"There is a slim chance if we have a great count we could possibly even pick up that congressional seat back, but we’ve got to step up our game," Dorman said.
Rural areas in the state generally had lower response rates in 2010, and that trend seems set to continue in 2020. According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the current bottom 10 counties range from 30% to 39% response rates, and they’re all rural areas.
U.S. Census Bureau Oklahoma Partnership Specialist Tricia Woodward said they’re trying to bring up those response rates by holding several mobile assistance events.
"[We've had them] at gas stations or convenience stores in rural areas and have been getting some response. We've done football games, fairs and we did a big push down in Lawton — rodeos and that type thing. So, we’ve been out there," Woodward said.
So far, just six Oklahoma counties have better response rates than the nation: Canadian, Cleveland, Rogers, Wagoner, Washington and Tulsa.