The Duncan Banner

Opinion

November 17, 2013

Numerical snapshot counts, too

DUNCAN — Today’s message, brought to you from the Oklahoma Policy Institute, focuses more on numbers than words and outlines how we compare with other counties in Oklahoma. The snapshot of how we rank among other counties is an interesting one.

Formed in 2008 as a non-profit organization based in Tulsa, the institute is an independent think tank that provides timely and credible information, analysis and ideas.  Its annual statistical research provides comparative data on health, education and the economy for all 77 Oklahoma counties.

“The rankings are helpful for comparisons,” analyst Kate Richey, explained, “but our goal is not to judge who’s best or who’s worst. It’s more to make residents of different counties aware of their status and to tell them in what areas they excel or might need to make adjustments.

“No one is great in everything nor terrible in everything, but seeing how neighboring areas fare is a helpful exercise.”

See if you agree, but pay attention. A low score is preferable in some categories; a high score in others.

Stephens County, for starters, is 21st among 77 counties in population. Our 44,779 people are far less than Oklahoma County’s 741,781, but much greater than Cimarron County’s tiny 2,385 panhandle population.

Our median personal income is solid at $43,769. That places us 18th among Oklahoma counties; less than Oklahoma County’s $60,225 but more than 77th-ranked Choctaw and its $28,598 mark.

Among the state’s top employment sectors, Stephens County is high (19 percent) in manufacturing and oil and gas (15 percent), average in healthcare and social services (12 percent), even statewide in retail (11 percent) and low in education (seven percent).

The area’s unemployment rate is lower than the state average. Its percentage of state and local government workers is low (75th at 7.6 percent), especially compared to Love County where the number hits nearly 43 percent. A working age workforce of 45 percent is a good number. Comanche County is the state’s lowest in that category at 5.6 percent.

Only five percent of our total employment is involved in farming. That number is 28 percent in Rogers Mills County, less than one percent in Oklahoma County.

A composite ranking of various health categories suggests Stephens County is the 31st healthiest county. Kingfisher has the best ranking. Pushmataha the lowest.

Twenty percent of adults here smoke. That ranks 55th lowest in the state and is actually a good number. In Pushmataha County, 40 percent of adults smoke, making its percentage the highest. Only 14 percent of the adults smoke in Major County.

We’re 55th in the percentage of obese adults at 31 percent. Again, that’s a better number than most. Grady County reports a 38 per cent rate for adult obesity and is the worst. Washita County has 28 percent. That’s too many, but is the state’s best figure.

There are 56 births per 1,000 teenage girls in Stephens County. The total ranks us 49th. Choctaw reports 97 per 1,000 and is the worst. Grant, with just 22, is the lowest.

Sixteen percent of Stephens Count residents are enrolled in Medicare. The high number is 69 percent in Major County and the low is four percent in McClain County. Our 20 percent of uninsured residents compares to a high of 33 percent in Cimarron County and a low of 16 percent in Canadian County.

We look good with 41 percent high school graduates compared to the state average of 32 percent, but not so good in college degrees with 21 percent compared to 30 percent statewide.

Fifty-four percent of our students (53rd) are eligible for free lunches, but that’s actually a low number. In Harrison County, 83 percent are eligible. The lowest is in Canadian where 40 percent are eligible. And our child poverty rate of 19 percent is 46th; better than Harmon County’s 37 percent, worse than Canadian County’s 10 percent.

Got all that? It’s a lot of numbers to be sure, but you don’t have to remember them all. Just visit the Institute’s web-site at okpolicy.org and see for yourself.

Chances are, you’ll find a cause worthy of support or a number worth trying to change.

edarling@duncanbanner.com

(580) 255-5354, Ext. 130

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

    If the Oklahoma State Legislators and our Governor spent less time interfering in women’s rights to manage their bodies, creating ways to lay more taxes and fees on the middle class in order to generate more tax breaks which benefit only the wealthy while also conceiving methods with which to fill Oklahoma’s for-profit prisons, they would be doing all of us a favor. Instead, why not work to enhance funding for our schools and wage increases for all school employees? While reforming the state’s educational budget, why don’t they approve wage increases for our Oklahoma State Troopers and enlarge their Academy to insure qualified individuals are ready to fill the upcoming vacancies as many of the older force retire?

    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014

Poll

Who do you favor for the U.S. Senate seat that Tom Coburn is giving up?

State Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton
U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond
State Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City
Former State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso
     View Results
AP Video