Results of the 2020 census reveal the South had the largest population growth over the last decade, allowing Texas to pick up two congressional seats.
(CN) – Initial results of the 2020 census released Monday show the South made big gains over the last 10 years, allowing Texas, Florida and North Carolina to pick up seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to the count that started in January 2020 in a town in Alaska and fanned out across the nation as Americans went into Covid-19 lockdown, there were 331,449,281 people residing in the United States as of April 2020, , a 7.4% increase in population from a decade ago.
The census results will affect how the approximately 315 federal programs disburse the approximately $1.5 trillion given out a year to states, cities and neighborhoods.
It also determines how the 435 seats in the U.S. House are divided among the states and its data will be used by states to redraw congressional maps ahead of the 2022 elections. Six states are gaining congressional seats based on the 2020 census while seven states are losing them.
Ron Jarmin, acting director of the Census Bureau, said the shift is part of a decades-long trend in which the population of the nation is shifting away from the Northeast and Midwest and to the the South and West, which pick up more seats.
This decade, however, “is the smallest number of seats shifting among the states in any decade since the current method of calculating apportionment was adopted in 1941,” Jarmin said.
According to statute, the U.S. Census Bureau was supposed to transmit the results of the count to the president by Dec. 31, 2020. The months-long delay, which could eventually affect states’ efforts to redraw political lines, was caused by the agency trying to work around the pandemic and natural disasters such as wildfires.
Jarmin said the office is confident the data it released Monday is high quality and it would not have released the information otherwise.
“We have taken the time we needed to produce the high-quality statistics that we and the public expect,” he said.
According to the numbers released Monday the biggest gains in population occurred in the South from 2010 to 2020 at a rate of 10.2% and the western half of the U.S., at 9.2%.
In addition to the three southern states, Montana, Colorado and Oregon also picked up seats in the House. Texas will gain two seats while the other five states will add one each.
The seven states that lost one seat each are primarily clumped in the rust belt and Midwest: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
New York – the state slammed hardest by Covid-19 in the early weeks of the pandemic – narrowly lost its seat. Census Bureau demographer Kristin Koslap said if population had stayed the same in other states and New York had 89 more people in it, the Empire State would have held onto the seat.
Over the coming weeks and months, the U.S. Census will release granular block-level data, which states will use to map out new political boundaries, street by street. It was set to be released March 31, but the Census Bureau now plans to release it by Sept. 30.
While Texas moves into the next decade of elections with two additional House seats, Democrats there said the state should have picked up three seats, according to the estimates ahead of the official census release.
In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa accused Republican lawmakers and the Trump administration of botching the census count in the Lone Star State by failing to properly fund and promote it at a time when the state’s population has grown diverse.
“Republicans were intentional in their efforts and chose to lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding rather than risk sending one additional Democrat to Congress,” Hinojosa said. “Their unwillingness to prioritize Texans is unforgivable.”
The Republican Party of Texas did not return an emailed request for comment.