Brief # 18 Elections and Politics

The 2020 Census Report Shifts Seven Seats in the House

Rosalind Gottfried    

May 17, 2021  


The first report from the 2020 census data was released in April after delays stemming from issues related to the Corona virus.  This first report is utilized to inform decisions relating to the reapportionment of the 435 seats in the House; it includes data through April 1, 2020 and as such is missing data reflecting deaths from the Covid 19.  The new census shows the lowest population gain in recorded US history.  The current population, based on the number of all living persons including Native Americans, is 331,449,281.  This reflects an increase of 7.4% from the 2010 census, the second lowest since the reported 7.3% recorded in the decade of the 1930s. Thirty seven states grew more slowly than in the previous decade while three states lost population.  This trend is attributable to lower birthrates; higher death rates, and slowed immigration.

The Demographic shifts have led to the exchange of 7 seats in the house.  States losing a seat included California, Illinois, Michigan, NY, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  Texas gained two seats while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon picked up one each.  While California lost a seat, it is still the most populous state and is reflective of trends in the nation and trends predicted to continue in the near future.  California saw a loss of 1.7% in population 2019, compared to 1.3% in 2017, due to  the millennial delay of parenthood; reduced immigration; and less incoming migration.  Immigration was .4 and .5 from 2010-15 and with Trump it went to<.1 of the US population.

Most telling is the increased population shift to the sunbelt, encompassing the southeast and southwestern states.  In 1970 these states accounted for 48% of the American population; now the corresponding figure is 62%.   Florida has overtaken NY as the third most populous state and Georgia and North Carolina have displaced Michigan to take the eighth and ninth places.  The decline in population in states tending to vote Red states has led many experts to predict a shift to Blue.


These initial reporte emanating from the 2020 census were delayed due to the pandemic; the next set of reports is anticipated in August.  Future data will address many more specific issues such as race; ethnic composition; immigrant status; employment; household income; education and provide more detail.  What can be noted from the broadly based initial population trends is the slowing of the growth of the population and the fact that by 2030 the youngest baby boomers will be over 65 years old, swelling the senior population.  Additions to this group will outpace both birth rates and the numbers added to the labor force.  There is a consensus among demographers that if the US is to sustain its population, it will have to depend on immigration.  Immigrants not only contribute to the labor force but tend to be younger and so also represent the potential to swell the fertility rate.   The government should prioritize immigration reform if it is to meet the challenge.

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