Once a decade, the federal government completes a population count to determine each state’s congressional and state-level representation. The federal government also uses this data to guide the distribution of funding to local communities every year. On August 12, 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau released the data collected for the most recent 2020 census. Here, Election Central takes a closer look at the outcome.
The 2020 Census revealed several major shifts that happened over the previous decade. The first is that the population of metro/urban areas increased by 9 percent since 2010. Eighty-six percent of the U.S. population now lives in metropolitan areas. This growth was especially evident in the southern and western parts of the country. The largest county remains Los Angeles County, and the largest U.S. city is still New York City. The fastest-growing metro area was The Villages, Florida, (a retirement community for those age 55 and over) which grew by 39 percent (from roughly 93,000 to 130,000 people).
The Census data revealed that the nation has become more diverse than previously measured. Questions on the new Census form helped collect more specific information about race and ethnicity. The 2020 African American population figure increased by 5.6 percent—growing from 42 million to just over 46 million in the last decade. The Hispanic or Latino population grew by 23 percent to 62.1 million people. The Asian American population from this new data collection is 24 million. This represents a 35 percent increase. The American Indian and Alaska Native population totals 9.7 million people. The multiracial population rose from 9 million people in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020. This represents a 276 percent increase.
The 2020 Census reveals that the number of adults over age 18 grew 10 percent in the past decade, to 258.3 million people. Meanwhile, the under-18 population declined by 1.4 percent, to 73.1 million. That means that more than three-quarters of the U.S. population (77.9 percent) are over 18. This growth was most dramatic in Utah, which saw a 22.8 percent increase in its adult population.
As the population of a state increases or decreases, so does the state’s congressional representation and the number of Electoral College votes the state receives. In 2021, Texas gained the most representation. It increased its number of Congressional representatives by two.. Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado, and Montana each gained one additional seat in the House of Representatives. Several other states–California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and West Virginia – lost a representative. All other states kept the same amount.
Remember that the total membership of the House of Representatives is 435 voting members. In 1929, Congress set a 435-seat cap on the House of Representatives membership. Since 1941, Congress has used a mathematical formula to determine the total number of representatives that each state receives based on its change in population.