The first batch of once-every-decade data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows a United States that is growing less quickly and but still seeing its population shift to the South and the West.
The data released Monday was relatively basic — containing national and state-level population figures and details of how they affect states’ representation in congress” target=”_blank”>Congress<:
CENSUS SWEEPSTAKES: TEXAS TO GAIN 2 HOUSE SEATS WHILE NEW YORK AND CALIFORNIA AMONG THE LOSERS
MORE SLUGGISH GROWTH AHEAD?
The U.S. population grew to 331 million, a 7.4% growth rate from the last time the Census Bureau counted every person in the country, in 2010. Those may sound like big numbers, but it’s actually the second slowest rate of population growth the census has ever recorded, just behind the 7.3% growth in the 1930s.
That decade’s slowed growth was rooted in the economy” target=”_blank”>Great Depression<, delaying events and starting a family. That dealt a blow to the nation’s birthrate. Then the infectious-disease hit last year and made matters worse.
In this image from video provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau Ron Jarmin speaks as a graphic showing the U.S. population as of April 1, 2020, is displayed during a virtual news conference Monday, April 26, 2021. The Census Bureau is releasing the first data from its 2020 headcount. (U.S. Census Bureau via AP)
But while U.S. population growth recovered after the Great Depression, demographers are not optimistic it will pick up anytime soon. Most forecast even slower population growth in the decades to come. Americans are getting older — the median age in the U.S. is 38, up one year from 37 in 2010. immigration” target=”_blank”>Immigration< have largely turned against the idea of immigration, legal or immigration, a new political barrier to the country adding more population quickly.
“Unlike the Great Depression, it’s part of a process where we’re likely to keep having slow growth,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in washington-dc” target=”_blank”>Washington, D.C.< after the census data release. “Now there are more Americans 80 and older than 2 or younger.”
THE GREAT MIGRATION CONTINUES
The U.S. population may be growing more slowly, but it continued its 80-year-long trend of shifting to the South and the West.
CHUCK DEVORE: NEW CENSUS DATA PROVES CALIFORNIA’S ANTI-FREEDOM WAYS ARE TAKING A TOLL, AS TEXAS TRIUMPHS
us-regions, us-regions and us-regions each saw enough growth to add a congressional seat, while booming us-regions gained two. us-regions and us-regions also gained new seats, while us-regions, us-regions and us-regions lost seats.
The snapshot tells a familiar story: Americans have moved out of the industrial Midwest and Northeast, chasing jobs, more affordable housing, growing new suburbs and vibrant cities.
But, strikingly, the longtime symbol of Americans’ search for the new and the next wasn’t part of that story. us-regions growth rate wasn’t enough to retain its 53-seat delegation in the house-of-representatives” target=”_blank”>House< control of state government is to blame.
GOOD NEWS FOR THE GOP — FOR NOW
Construction cranes hover over downtown and near the State Capitol, Monday, April 26, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Texas’ torrid growth over the past decade is paying off with a major boost in political clout. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Those population changes will be quickly translated into political shifts. The census data officially kicked off the elections” target=”_blank”>redistricting process<. And Colorado’s voters took the drawing of district lines away from state lawmakers and gave it to a nonpartisan commission.
The new seats are only part of the often cutthroat redistricting fight. As soon as August, the Census Bureau is expected to release detailed information showing, down to the block, where almost every person lives. New legislative maps will be redrawn in each state to ensure equal representation. But one party can gain advantage by packing rivals into a single district, or spreading them out so that they can never win an election.
Right now, the GOP controls more statehouses overall and has an edge in growing states. Republicans only need to net a handful of seats to win control of the U.S. House.
CALIFORNIA MAY LOSE CONGRESSIONAL SEAT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY
“I think Republicans, when all this is done, will be in great shape to retake the House majority in 2022,” said Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, which is coordinating the GOP redistricting push.
But there will be limits. Many of the new residents of those states are young and voters of color, groups that lean strongly Democratic. It may be hard for Republicans to maintain their edge for much of the decade, regardless of how they draw their lines.
TROUBLE COUNTING LATINOS?
In fact, the process was expected to go even better for the GOP. Texas had been predicted to gain three seats, Florida two and us-regions one. Those shortfalls were a shocker for demographers, and there were so few details in the data it was hard to understand what happened.
One possibility is that Latinosa> weren’t properly counted. Latinos make up a large segment of the population in the three states that didn’t gain expected seats. <a href="https: unsuccessfully pushed to add a citizenship question to the census, sparking allegations that he hoped to intimidate Latinos from participating in the process. The actual count started during the coronavirus pandemic when it was especially hard to reach certain populations.
It may be that the gap between expected gains and actual ones is the first sign of a Hispanic undercount. But it’s too soon to tell without the more detailed data due out in the fall.
People walk on the street, Monday, April 26, 2021 in New York. The once-a-decade head count of the United States shows where the population grew during the past 10 years and where it shrank. New York will lose one seat in Congress as a result of national population shifts, according to census data released Monday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
“The initial results are surprising enough that once more details are released, we will be able to better determine to what extent the Latino population was fairly and accurately counted,” said Arturo Vargas, president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
Thomas Saenz, president of the world-regions executive and education” target=”_blank”>Education<. But, during a Monday news conference, Census Bureau officials revealed the state was 89 people short of dodging the demographic bullet of losing a congressional seat.
Congressional reapportionment is a zero-sum game, with states divvying up the 435 House seats based on population. us-regions barely edged out New York to avoid being the last state to lose a seat. If New York had counted 89 more residents, and all other states stayed the same, the state would have kept its seat and Minnesota would have lost one.
Minnesota, which had the nation’s highest self-response rate, also secured the last House seat in 2010.