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Census: CA loses House seat for first time ever; South, west states gain

US 2020 Census (Dreamstime/TNS)
April 26, 2021

Details of the 2020 census released on Monday marked an expected shift in congressional seats, with Texas gaining two representatives, while five other states gain one. Seven states, including California and New York, will lose one seat, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The shift marks the first time California has ever lost a congressional seat.

According to U.S. Census Bureau acting director Ron Jarmin, the seven seats shifting among 13 states is the smallest change since 1941, the year the current method was introduced.

Texas gained the most seats with two additional representatives in Congress for a total of 39. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon also saw gains and will each see seat one additional representative.  

California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will each lose a seat in the House of Representatives.

Jarmin said a trend of congressional seats moving from the northwest to the south and west has been going on for decades, and 2020 was no different.

“This is the first time California has lost representation in the House since statehood,” Cook Political Report editor Dave Wasserman tweeted. “West Virginia, which had six seats as recently as 1963, will have just two in 2023.”

New York lost one seat by just 89 people, according to officials, and if 89 additional people had been counted, Minnesota would have lost a seat.

“There were 435 seats. The last seat went to Minnesota and New York was next in line,” said Kristin Koslap, senior technical expert for 2020 Census Apportionment. “If you do the algebra equation that determines how many they would have needed, it’s 89 people.”

The overall U.S. population increased to 331,449,281, marking a 7.4 percent increase — the slowest population growth since the 1930s.

Wasserman pointed out the new numbers average “to [about] 760k people per congressional district.”

The results of the 2020 census were delayed due to a number of factors including COVID-19, hurricanes and wildfires. NPR reported that the yearly data collection effort was further interrupted when former President Donald Trump’s administration cut the program’s schedule short. Extra time was required to sort through duplicate and incomplete responses, the bureau said.

“It’s going to be impossible to complete the count in time,” said one of the bureau employees at the time. “I’m very fearful we’re going to have a massive undercount.”

This census was supposed to reflect the United States’ population as of April 1, 2020. It does not include residents who died before that date, but those who passed away after that date should have been counted, NPR reported.

Demographic data is expected to be released in mid-August. New redistricting data was due to each state by the end of March, but the bureau is behind schedule.