Census data released this week shows seven states losing a seat in the US House of Representatives and six states gaining a seat as populations in the Rust Belt and Northeast continue to decline.
Overall, the shift was the smallest in nearly 100 years and population growth nationwide was a mere 7.4% – the slowest rate since the 1930s.
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- New York
- West Virginia
Some of these states have been losing representation for years.
Pennsylvania and New York, for example, have lost seats during the past 10 and 8 consecutive reapportionment processes, respectively. This time around, New York was just 89 people away from gaining a seat.
Perhaps the biggest loser was West Virginia, which dropped a seat after a population shrinkage of 3.2%. For the next 10 years, the state will have just 2 elected representatives in the House.
The state of California is losing a seat for the very first time since joining the Union in 1850. The loss is unsurprising considering the homelessness crisis, raging wildfires, water shortages, and other problems the state faces as a result of Democratic mismanagement.
“We continue to see movement to the Sun Belt but not quite as dramatically as in the past, because the Great Recession held it up a little bit in the beginning of the decade,” explains William Frey, a senior demographer at the Brookings Institution. “People are leaving coastal, costly places, and I think California is a piece of that.”
States gaining a seat in the House:
- North Carolina
Census data shows increased population growth in Florida and Texas – states that have gained seats during 12 and 8 consecutive reapportionment processes, respectively.
The Lone Star State will gain 2 seats this year after a population boom of more than 4 million.
With preliminary data in hand, legislators and redistricting commissions will start planning new maps – a process that is expected to spark numerous battles over partisan gerrymandering.