When considering the wealth of America, it’s important to understand that it drastically varies from state to state. Each state, of course, has its own economy, cost of living, and job opportunities, which all make up the state’s overall wealth. So you may be wondering: Is Oklahoma a poor state?

Based on the government’s threshold for poverty and the average income of someone living in Oklahoma, the state is technically the 8th most impoverished in the country. The Oklahoma poverty rate is 15.2%, whereas the national average is 12.3%. Overall, Oklahoma is considered a poor state. 

It’s important to understand that while Oklahoma is rising in the ranks with more job opportunities, lower cost of living, and more and more people moving to the state, its residents are still suffering. In this article, we are going to break down the poverty in Oklahoma as well as how the state is changing so you can understand that although Oklahoma is a poor state, there is hope!

Poverty in Oklahoma 

Before we dig into why Oklahoma is considered an impoverished state, it is important to understand the poverty guidelines in the USA. 

The United States government has outlined that any single-member household making $13,590 a year or less is considered below the poverty line. The threshold increases by $4,720 for each additional member of the household. 

While these numbers are important, there are many other factors to consider when addressing whether or not a family is impoverished. This can include financial well-being, unemployment levels, educational opportunity, inherited poverty, and the systematic exclusion of certain populations from receiving the full benefit of the country’s institutions. 

As you now know, Oklahoma is considered to be the 8th poorest state in the country due to the average income and cost of living, and many of its residents cannot afford food, health care, and housing, and do not have the opportunity to save for the future. 

Here are some statistics on life in Oklahoma: 

  • 1  in every 10 Oklahomans lives below the poverty line.  
  • Approximately 1 in 8 Oklahoma adults reported sometimes or often not having enough food.
  • More than 1 in 5 Oklahoma renters reported being behind on rent.
  • 1 in 12 Oklahomans in the labor force was unemployed in August. 
  • 14.3% of Oklahomans are medically uninsured. 
  • The poverty rate in Oklahoma is 15.2%.

These numbers can seem fairly shocking, and maybe even surprising considering Oklahoma has been ranked one of the best places to live for a low cost of living and up-and-coming job opportunities. 

Is Oklahoma Becoming Wealthier?

The truth is, while the statistics still show Oklahoma as a poor state, things are changing for this southern state. 

People are moving to Oklahoma because their money can go further. In 2021 almost 25,000 people immigrated to the state and over 100,000 people have moved to the capital Oklahoma City in the past decade. In fact, Oklahoma City is the sixth fastest-growing city among the top 25 largest cities by population. 

This immigration is great for Oklahoma as a whole, and companies are taking advantage of the low cost of living and building their headquarters or outposts here. 

The problem is, those Oklahomas who are living in cities are progressing out of poverty, whereas those stuck in rural counties are still struggling. 

Why is Oklahoma a Poor State?

Oklahoma is statistically a poor state, but it’s vital to understand why the people of Oklahoma rank so low on the list of the financially stable. 

One of the biggest reasons why Oklahomans are considered poor is because of the unfortunately high uninsured rate. High medical costs can put families at a greater risk for poverty as they end up using their minimal savings for professional care, medicine, and emergencies. 

Luckily, Oklahoma expanded Medicaid in 2021, and it should decrease the number of Oklahomans who struggle to access necessary health care over the next few years. 

Another problem for Oklahomas is that the education system is extremely disappointing, in fact, the state ranked 44 out of 50 for K-12 education. Statistics across the board have shown that a lack of education directly leads to impoverished families. 

So because children in Oklahoma are not getting a good education, they are becoming poor adults, and so the cycle continues. 

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, the answer to our questions is yes, Oklahoma is a poor state.

Although the state’s economy is improving, there are still underlying problems that are keeping many Oklahomans under the poverty line. 

If you are thinking about moving to Oklahoma, you will most likely live a comfortable life due to the low cost of living, however, those who have lived there for their entire lives will continue to struggle to pull out of poverty.