On April 26, the U.S. Census Bureau released its first population estimates from the 2020 decennial census. This release, primarily consisting of national and statewide population results, found that that there are approximately 331 million residents in the U.S., an increase of nearly 7.5 percent from the 2010 census. 

This population increase, however, masks the fact that the U.S. has experienced its sharpest population decline since the 1930s. From 1950 to 2010, the U.S., on average, experienced a nearly 13% population increase after every decennial census. The only other comparable period from 2010 to 2020 is the 1940 census where the U.S. experienced a 7.3 percent population increase from 1930. These results are prompting demographers to take a closer look at emerging patterns such as lower birth rates and reduced immigration as key indicators for declines in population growth. (How the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic impacts future population growth is yet to be determined).

Nevertheless, these population estimates provide the U.S. Census Bureau the ability to calculate representation in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next ten years. Despite a population increase of over 2 million residents since the last decennial census, California will lose one congressional seat as will Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia via apportionment. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon will each gain one congressional seat while Texas gains two. 

This will be the first time that California has lost a congressional seat since statehood in 1850. The closest margin of representation, however, can be found in New York. During a press conference announcing the results, a U.S. Census official stated that if 89 more persons were counted in New York, it would have retained its lost Congressional seat. 

               

As a result of this Census release, each state will now be able to determine how their respective legislative seats are redistricted, and the method of doing so varies from state to state. California voters in 2010, for example, passed Proposition 20 which established a Citizens Redistricting Commission to appoint non-elected private citizens to a redistricting commission whose primarily function is to redraw legislative boundaries following each decennial census. Other states such as Texas and Florida, leave it to their state legislatures to determine redistricting. The 118th Congress, to be convened in 2023, will be the first to reflect congressional redistricting from the 2020 decennial census. 

While this is only the first release of 2020 decennial census results, we can expect more granular data in the months to come including demographic information on ethnicity, neighborhood-level results and more. It is this data which helps measure financial stability and well-being through our Real Cost Measure study and Measure of America’s Human Development Index, two important tools that help California United Ways understand and serve their communities better. Stay tuned for new releases on these key studies in the coming months.