Two more counties added to Tulsa metropolitan area

Friday, June 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Officials aren't sure how much of an impact the addition of two counties to Tulsa's metropolitan statistical area (MSA) will have on federal funding for some programs.

The federal Office of Management and Budget included Okmulgee and Pawnee counties to Tulsa's MSA in a move to add 49 new MSAs to its list and revise others.

The office controls the definition of an MSA, which has an urbanized area of at least 50,000 or more population.

Micropolitan statistical areas have at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000, but less than 50,000 population, according the agency. These areas also include adjacent counties that have a minimum of 25 percent commuting to the central counties, the OMB says.

Tulsa, Creek, Osage, Rogers and Wagoner already are part of the Tulsa metro area.

The Office of Management and Budget said it updates its list of MSAs each decade for statistical purposes.

``I think it is a recognition of how interdependent we are,'' said Rich Brierre, deputy director of the Indian Nations Council of Governments. ``The Tulsa region really does encompass a broad geographic area with communities and counties all around us.''

Brierre agreed that the new MSA designation could affect how dollars are allocated for some federal programs.

``We don't have information at this time of how much of an impact it would have,'' he said. ``There are some programs where funds are allocated to metropolitan areas based on the population or other demographic attributes.''

The change also could affect the area's air quality program and Medicare payment rates.

Adding Pawnee and Okmulgee counties to the Tulsa MSA could lower the area's unemployment rate in the future, said Bob Ball, economist with the Tulsa Metro Chamber.

Rural areas, with their agricultural populations, generally have more stable employment levels and lower unemployment rates, Ball said.

In April, the Tulsa area's total nonfarm employment was 385,600, compared with 403,900 a year earlier. The 4.5 percent decline trails only San Jose, Calif., which had a 4.9 percent decline, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Based on 2000 U.S. Census data, the population of the Tulsa MSA was 803,235, Ball said. If the other two counties had been added, that number would have jumped to 842,920, or nearly 5 percent.

By adding the two counties, the Tulsa area will gain population, total income and economic activity, he said.

Under the OMB latest revision, the Oklahoma City metro area has seven counties: Canadian, Cleveland, Grady, Lincoln, Logan, McClain and Oklahoma.

Pottawatomie County was a part of the Oklahoma City metro area for the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses but was dropped in the new MSA, while Grady and Lincoln counties were added.