Every census is a challenge at the best of times. Counting every person and every household in the country is no small task. The 2020 census faced additional logistical challenges.
Yes, the pandemic threw a big wrench into the census process. But it still got done. And now, we know the first results of this herculean effort. We now know how much the population has grown across the country, as well as where the population shifted between 2010 and 2020.
Then, based on that population shift, we also know how many representatives states will gain or lose, or if they will stay the same. Already, the practical application of 2020 census data at work.
And now, some of that data:
The U.S. population has shown growth every time a census has been conducted, starting in 1790. The current increase of 7.4%, however, is the lowest increase recorded since that time, save the 1940 census at 7.3% (a low figure that can be explained as a consequence of the Great Depression).
Why the slowdown? Economic instability starting in 2008, contentious world relations, and other related fears have helped to slow down the U.S. birth rate. And stricter immigration laws have reduced immigration into the U.S.
The 2020 census breaks the U.S. into the regions of Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. All four regions in the U.S. grew in population, but not necessarily at the same rates. The South showed the greatest gains, with an increase of 10.2% (or 11.7 million people), while the Midwest only gained 3.1% (2 million).
Between 2010 and 2020, several states grew–some by a lot–while others lost people. The population boom in the South is due in large part to an apparent exodus to Texas. Nearly 4 million people have moved there since 2010, making it the state with the greatest population gain of them all. Florida is a fairly distant second place with 2.7 million gained, and then California with 2.3 million.
And there are a few states that have actually seen a population decrease. In this case, the numbers aren’t quite as dramatic; numbers are in the thousands, not the millions. West Virginia showed the greatest decrease, with nearly 60 thousand lost. Illinois was down over 18 thousand, and Mississippi lost over 6 thousand.
The shifting population recorded by the 2020 census has created some changes when it comes to House of Representative seats. Most of the states will stay the same. However, as you might expect, Texas will gain seats. It is the only state to gain two or more. Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado and Montana will gain one seat each.
Interestingly, despite its population increase, California will actually lose a seat. This could be explained by a shift of population within the state, probably from denser districts to more rural ones. Also losing a seat are Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.
Population shifts within and between states will also result in redistricting. This essentially means drawing up new congressional and legislative districts to have representation meet updated population numbers as equally as possible.
It’s exciting to see 2020 census data applied so quickly to practical matters. It just goes to show how important it is to get accurate counts and information every ten years. Not only does it reveal interesting patterns, it shows that being counted actually counts.
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