2010 Apportionment Continues 40-year shift to South/Southwest

[For media inquiries on this issue, please contact Rose Institute Fellow Douglas Johnson at 310-200-2058 and/or douglas.johnson@cmc.edu]

Apportionment after each decennial Census is required by the United States Constitution. Article 1 Section 2 says “the actual Enumeration shall be made…within every subsequent Term of ten years.” Over time, America’s population shifts, and Congress adjusts by apportioning its members according to each new set of Census results. For each House seat shifted, one Electoral College vote shifts.

The 2010 apportionment of Congressional districts among the 50 states is brings Western states’ gains to 26 Congressional seats since the 1970s, with the South picking up 27. The Northeast has now lost 26 seats and the Midwest 27 over the same period. The disparity in population growth will significantly alter the makeup of the House of Representatives. In  the 1970s, the Midwest and Northeast together made up 52% of Congress. After 2010, they will hold only 40% of the seats. The Northeast alone held 104 seats in the 1970s, but that number is now down to 78.

Congressional Seat Proportions by Region by Decade
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The only hopeful sign for the Midwest and Northeast is that the geographic shift has slowed from its recent peak in the 1980 reapportionment. Seventeen seats were lost in 1980, fifteen in 1990, and “only” ten in 2000 and eleven in 2010.

Congressional Seat Changes By Region
  1970 to 1980 1980 to 1990 1990 to 2000 2000 to 2010 Total Since 1970
West 9 8 5 4 26
South 8 6 6 7 27
Midwest -8 -8 -5 -6 -27
Northeast -9 -7 -5 -4 -25

Total Change from the 1970s to 2010
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2010 Gains and Losses
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 1970  to 2010 Apportionment Changes

A case study of five major states (including the four most populous in the country) highlights the demographic changes of the United States in the past 40 years. For the purposes of this report, we have selected California, Florida, Texas, New York and Ohio.

Congressional Seat Changes for Selected States
  1970 to 1980 1980 to 1990 1990 to 2000 2000 to 2010 Total Since 1970
California 2 7 1 0 10
Florida 4 4 2 2 12
New York -5 -3 -2 -2 -12
Ohio -2 -2 -1 -2 -7
Texas 3 3 2 4 12

California’s growth stalls

California has picked up 10 Congressional seats since 1970, growing from 43 in the 1970s to 53 today. Seven of those ten came in one decade alone (after the 1990 census). California gained two districts in 1980, seven in 1990, and another seat in 2000. One contributor to California’s population surge between 1980 and 1990 was the Reagan administration’s large military build-up. The military growth boosted the California economy, which attracted immigration from throughout the country. Between 1980 and 1990, California’s population increased by about 6 million people. Alone among the otherwise high-growth southwestern states, in the past ten years California’s growth slowed to the national average.

Florida’s growth continues

Florida also received its largest seat gains in the 1980 and 1990 apportionments, gaining four seats in each cycle.  Just as in California, the military build-up during the Cold War spurred the Florida economy and led to an influx of workers. Construction of NASA’s launch sites in Cape Canaveral in 1962 led to a booming aerospace industry, and Florida in 2010 houses 24 military bases. The result of those new jobs, together with the state’s historical appeal for retirees, is that almost two thirds of Florida’s population was born outside the state.  Since the 1970s, Florida’s representation has increased by over 50%. It had only 15 seats in the 1970s, and that number has nearly doubled to its 27 districts after 2010. Florida picked up four seats after the 1980 census and another four after 1990. The 2000 and 2010 reapportionments each allotted two more seats to Florida.

Texas gains the most

Texas has steadily increased its Congressional representation over the past forty years.  Texas has parlayed a successful tech industry—Texas Instruments, Electronic Data Systems, and Dell are all headquartered in Texas—and a thriving trade with Mexico into the second largest state economy in the United States. Furthermore, the Texan petroleum industry has been highly profitable since World War II; Shell, Halliburton, and Texaco are all based in Texas. Texan governmental policies, coupled with the state’s economic successes, have attracted workers and families. Texas offers relatively low-cost housing and does not collect a personal income tax from its residents. Its population growth, and thus its growth in Congressional representation, has been very consistent since 1970. Texas picked up three seats in 1980 and then another three after 1990. Texas gained two seats after the 2000 census and four new seats in 2010.

New York’s loss slows

While the nation as a whole has grown by a third since the 1970s, the state of New York’s population has only increased by about 7%. New York, like most of the Northeast, has seen its representation in Congress rapidly decline since the 1970s. In the 1970s, New York was especially hard-hit by the national recession. As the economic outlook throughout the state soured, New York saw a massive population exodus which triggered its apportionment losses in 1980,  when the state saw its 39 seats fall by five, to 34. It lost another five between 1980 and 2000, and two more in 2010. While its population loss seems to be slowing, New York has lost 12 seats in the past forty years – a combined loss of almost a third of its representation.

Ohio’s slow but steady loss

Ohio loses two seats in 2010, bringing its total loss to seven seats since the 1970s. The population decline has been mild—Ohio has not lost more than two seats in any reapportionment after the 1970s—but also constant. The state has lost representation in each of the last four reapportionments. Not surprisingly, Ohio’s population loss is a consequence of statewide economic woes. Ohio’s unemployment rate has increased by almost 5% since 1980, reaching 11% in 2010. The slowing manufacturing sector of the American economy has devastated Ohio, whose businesses were frequently on the losing end of the United States’ extended international free trade agreements and globalization efforts. It will have 16 seats after 2010, down from 23 in the 1970s.

The Big Apportionment Winners and Losers

The biggest winners and losers in Congressional reapportionment over the past three censuses further reveal a population shift to the west and south.  Arizona’s representation has more than doubled since the 1970s, jumping from 4 to 9.

On the other side of the population migration, states from the Midwest and Northeast continue to lose representation. Pennsylvania lost seven seats between the 1970s and 2010. Michigan and Illinois (losers of five and six seats, respectively since the 1970s) each lost yet another seat in the House.

More Detailed Numbers by Region: The West

Congressional Seat Changes for the West By State (1970-2010)
Alaska* 0
Arizona 5
California 10
Colorado 2
Hawaii 0
Idaho 0
Montana -1
Nevada* 3
New Mexico 1
Oregon 1
Utah 2
Washington 3
Wyoming* 0
Total 26
* denotes states with 1 Congressional seat in 1970

The Midwest

Congressional Seat Changes for the Midwest By State (1970-2010)
Illinois -6
Indiana -2
Iowa -2
Kansas -1
Michigan -5
Minnesota 0
Missouri -2
Nebraska 0
North Dakota* 0
Ohio -7
South Dakota -1
Wisconsin -1
Total -27
* denotes states with 1 Congressional seat in 1970

The South

Congressional Seat Changes for the South By State (1970-2010)
Alabama 0
Arkansas 0
Delaware* 0
Florida 12
Georgia 4
Kentucky -1
Louisiana -2
Maryland 0
Mississippi -1
North Carolina 2
Oklahoma -1
South Carolina 1
Tennessee 1
Texas 12
Virginia 1
West Virginia -1
Total 26
* denotes states with 1 Congressional seat in 1970

The Northeast

Congressional Seat Changes for the Northeast By State (1970-2010)
Connecticut -1
Maine 0
Massachusetts -3
New Hampshire 0
New Jersey -3
New York -12
Pennsylvania -7
Rhode Island 0
Vermont* 0
Total -25
* denotes states with 1 Congressional seat in 1970

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