The Census Bureau released the United States population and change data on Tuesday, more than a week before their constitutional mandate of delivering the data to the President by December 31 (but, did they do it under budget is what I want to know!). This first set of data is what is used to reapportion the seats in the House of Representatives. Some figures to note:
Total U.S. resident population = 308,745,538, an increase of 9.7 percent over the 2000 U.S. resident population of 281,421,906.
The most populous state was California (37,253,956); the least populous, Wyoming (563,626).
The state that gained the most (numerically) since the 2000 Census was Texas (up 4,293,741 to 25,145,561) and the state that gained the most as a percentage of its 2000 Census count was Nevada (up a whopping 35.1% to 2,700,551).
Regionally, the South and the West picked up the bulk of the population increase, 14,318,924 and 8,747,621, respectively – and thus the bulk of the reapportioned House seats. But the Northeast and the Midwest also grew at a modest rate: 1,722,862 and 2,534,225.
The only area to lose population? Puerto Rico’s resident population was 3,725,789, a 2.2 percent decrease from a decade earlier.
See an interesting interactive map on the US Census site (I’d embed the interactive version here, but WordPress doesn’t support it, so you’ll have to settle for a static version).
So how do they figure out this puzzle anyway? The apportionment totals were calculated by a congressionally defined formula (Title 2 of the U.S. Code if you want to look it up), to divide among the states the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The apportionment population consists of the resident population of the 50 states, plus the overseas military and federal civilian employees and their dependents living with them who could be allocated to a state. Each member of the House represents, on average, about 710,000 people. The populations of the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are excluded from the apportionment population, since they do not have voting seats in Congress. Can you say “taxation without representation”? See a nifty little video about apportionment here. The apportionment only defines the number of seats, however. How the districts within each state are defined is another matter altogether and requires a little lesson in gerrymandering that we’ll not get in to here. Suffice it to say that it’s an interesting if not convoluted and sometimes hotly debated process.
So, thanks to the Census Bureau, we get to revel in these little nuggets of data while we drink our egg nog and warm our feet by the fire (or dip our feet in the pool, in the case of my Santa Barbara compatriots). Happy Holidays everyone!
Source: US Census Bureau