(KION and AP) UPDATE 4/26/2021 12:30 p.m. The US Census Bureau has released its first 2020 Census results and based on population, California has lost a seat in the House of Representatives. This is the first time the state has lost a seat.
California has the largest population of any state in the US at 39,538,223, and it will still have the highest number of representatives at 52.
California’s population grew by about 2.3 million people since the 2010 Census but has been nearly flat since 2017.
“It’s certainly a remarkable result given the broader history of the state, which has been just almost relentless population growth,” said Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California who studies political redistricting. “The state has just been booming almost since Day One, so to have it be slowing down this much is really historically unprecedented.”
That means influence will shift to faster-growing states such as Arizona, Florida and Texas, where business-friendly policies and lower costs of living have fueled high-octane growth over the past decade. Texas gained two seats while Florida added one.
Texas politicians have long sought to woo California residents and businesses. During the pandemic, companies like Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced plans to relocate headquarters to from California to Texas.
“There will be gloating — political gloating — I can guarantee it,” said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a professor of public policy communication at the University of Southern California.
California’s loss of a House seat also means a possible dip in federal funding for Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for low-income people, as well as less money for highways, schools and a wide array of social services that are based on population.
More U.S. residents moving out of California than into the state is just one factor driving California’s slower growth, though demographers say more data is needed to understand who has left and why in recent years. In fact, California has lost more residents to other states than it’s gained for all but three of the past roughly 30 years, McGhee said.
Those losses typically are offset by international immigration into the state, something that’s slowed in recent years, he said. Births also are declining while deaths are increasing, a phenomenon across the U.S. that’s slightly faster in California.
Just because California’s growth has slowed doesn’t mean the state is in decline.
“California tends to go through boom and bust cycles,” said Beth Jarosz, a senior research associate at the Population Reference Bureau.
The growth in recent years has been historically low. Since the last census, California’s population grew 6.1%, which ranked 24th nationally.
Bob Shrum, director of University of Southern California’s Dornsife Center for the Political Future, said he expects the overall impact of the loss of a congressional seat to be marginal, even on federal funding. That’s because California will still have far more seats than any other state.
The total US population is measured at 331,449,281 as of April 1, 2020, a 7.4% increase from the 2010 count, the second slowest growth in US history. This is a decrease from the growth between 2000 and 2010, which was measured at 9.7%.
Since 2010, the region that has grown the most is the South at 10.2%, and the region that grew the least is the Midwest at 3.1%. The West grew by 9.2%.
The states with the largest populations in the US are:
- New York
- North Carolina
The least populous states are:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
The state with the largest increase in population is Utah at 18.4%, and the state with the largest decrease in population is West Virginia at -3.2%.
Since 1940, 84 seats in the House of Representatives have shifted to the South and West from the Northeast and Midwest. In this census, seven seats shifted among 13 states.
The states that gained seats are:
- Texas +2
- Colorado +1
- Florida +1
- Montana +1
- North Carolina +1
- Oregon +1
The states that lost seats are:
- California -1
- Illinois -1
- Michigan -1
- New York -1
- Ohio -1
- Pennsylvania -1
- West Virginia -1
Thirty-seven states will maintain the same number of seats.
PREVIOUS STORY: The US Census Bureau says it has finished processing data for the first 2020 Census results, and they will be released during a virtual news conference Monday.
The state population counts are used to divide up seats in the House of Representatives among the 50 states. The results released Monday will include the population total for the country and states and the congressional apportionment totals for each state.
There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and they are divided among the states based on population counts. The population includes residents plus the overseas military and federal civilian employees and dependents living with them who could be allocated to a home state. Each state has a minimum of one seat.
The Census Bureau said COVID-19 and weather events delayed collection efforts last year.