By: Dr. M. Ray Perryman
Published in syndication May 12, 2021
Results from the 2020 Census are beginning to surface. These statistics are far more than a matter of interest. Not only is the number of representatives in the US House tied to the count, but also funds from a variety of federal programs. Trends are also crucial to planning and decision-making across a broad spectrum. While the data is still being compiled and it will be a while before we know the full story (and the inevitable lawsuits that are often settled by adding more people), some patterns are emerging.
Over the 10-year span, the population of the United States grew from 308.7 million to 331.4 million, representing a 7.4% increase (the lowest rate since the 1930s and the second lowest ever). Texas saw the largest change by a wide margin, adding about 4.0 million residents to top 29.1 million in 2020. Florida was next (up 2.7 million), followed by California (nearly 2.3 million) and Georgia (1.0 million). Three states actually saw population shrink over the decade (West Virginia, Illinois, and Mississippi).
In terms of growth rates (rather than absolute increases), Utah and Idaho were the top two, with gains of 18.4% and 17.3% for the decade, while Texas was third with 15.9%. For a state with such a large base to also rank near the top in percentage change is quite remarkable. By contrast, the most populous state, California, ranked 24 with a 6.1% rate of increase.
Because of the increase, Texas will gain two additional representatives in Congress. Several other states will add one (Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon), while others lose one (California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia).
Major categories of federal funding tied to the Census include health care, housing, food and nutrition, education and job training, infrastructure, and social and protective services. All of these areas are critical to ongoing economic expansion and quality of life. Moreover, funding for such initiatives fosters “downstream” effects. For example, nutrition, education, social services, health care, and other programs can enhance productivity and efficiency, improve overall health (further enhancing productivity), and decrease stress on social service systems. The new data will help ensure Texas receives a significant share of federal funds, although the decision by the State government to provide limited support for the effort likely resulted in an undercount (and potentially loss of a third new Representative).
Some of the variation in growth rates across the nation is driven by demographic patterns and rates of natural increase. Another key factor is economic expansion and job opportunities, leading to in-migration. Adding four million new Texans indicates that the state remains a great place to live and work. Let’s keep it that way! Stay safe!