New Census numbers show CA avoids losing a seat – for now

This morning the Census Bureau released state by state population estimates for July 1, 2009. The numbers show California’s population growth remains slow, as net gains from new births and immigration from other countries exceed the net loss of population to other states. Calculations by Polidata and Election Data Services indicate California is likely, but not guaranteed, to keep its current 53 Congressional representatives when the official apportionment numbers are released next December.

The apportionment math used by Polidata and EDS project each state’s 2010 population assuming the 2008 to 2009 one-year growth rate continues for an additional year. EDS also performs other projections, assuming that the 2009-2010 growth rate matches the state’s growth rate from 2000 through 2009; from 2004 through 2009; and again starting from each year since 2004.

The one-year projections from Polidata and EDS agree: California will keep its 53 seats. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington will each gain one seat, and Texas will gain four new seats. Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania will each lose one seat, and Ohio will lose two.

But longer-term projections done by EDS raise the specter of California losing a seat. Using the growth rate from 2000 through 2009, California holds onto its 53rd seat by just 15,000 people. Projections using the growth rates from 2004 through 2009 and from 2005 through 2009 show California losing one seat.

Of course, even if California holds onto all 53 seats, it will be the first time since statehood that California has not added at least one Congressional seat after the Census.This highlights the vital necessity of counting every Californian in the 2010 Census, as missing only 0.04% of the population could cost the state a vote in Congress. Overall, clearly, the “Golden State” has lost its appeal for Americans from other states.

UPDATE: Rose Institute Fellow Douglas Johnson commented: “Failing to add any new Congressional seats reflects California’s problems over the past ten years, both political and economic. Losing a seat would be an unprecedented political shock, especially at a time when the state is more and more dependent on federal funds. Californians must make every effort to ensure a full count in the 2010 Census to ensure no seats are lost.”

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