Census 2020: NC gains a 14th seat in the House of Representatives
April 29, 2021
This piece was originally published by Carolina Demography.
By Rebecca Tippett, 4/26/21
The U.S. Census Bureau just released the first look at the results from the 2020 Census. The U.S. population is now 331,449,281. The nation grew by 22,703,743 or 7.4% since 2010. This represents the second slowest decade of growth on record, just after 1930 to 1940 when the nation grew by 7.3%.
Utah (+18.4%) was the fastest-growing state, followed by Idaho (17.3%) and Texas (15.9%). Three states–West Virginia (-3.2%), Mississippi (-0.2%), Illinois (-0.1%)–and Puerto Rico (-11.8%) lost population.
What’s North Carolina’s population?
North Carolina’s official population in the 2020 Census was 10,439,388*. This is an increase of 903,905 or 9.5% since 2010.
North Carolina had the 6th largest increase among the states and was the 15th fastest-growing state.
Is this what we were expecting?
We expected a population somewhere between 10,550,000 and 10,580,000, based on estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and population projections from the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management. The official census count is more than 100,000 fewer individuals than we expected.
Are there parts of the state losing population?
Population estimates suggest that 43 of the state’s 100 counties may have lost population over the decade. We won’t know which counties lost population—and how many people—until the next release of 2020 Census data in August/September 2021. With the state population coming in lower than expected, we could see counties with larger than expected losses, slower than expected growth, or both.
What does this mean for North Carolina?
North Carolina gained a 14th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
How are these population numbers affected by the topics we have written about in previous blog posts such as COVID-19, the since-dropped immigration question, the lawsuits filed by the Trump administration, and the shifting Census end date?
We don’t really know yet. These events obviously made the Census population count more challenging, as we wrote about in the following blog posts:
- Making sense of the 2020 Census: October 14 update
- Making sense of the 2020 Census: October 9 updates
- Federal judge orders census count to continue through 10/31
- With one week left, NC Census response lags nation by 3.8 percentage points
More information will be released in the coming weeks and months, and we will continue to share what we learn about ways these events and others affected the overall count.
Do we know how the state districts will be redrawn?
Not yet. The data released today is just state population totals. During redistricting, congressional districts are drawn to have the same population across districts. This means that each of North Carolina’s 14 congressional districts will need to have a population of 745,671. The data to redraw district lines will be released by September 30, 2021.
While we don’t yet know the 2020 Census counts for our existing districts,our projections from last year suggest that District 1 is the only district that may have a 2020 population below the ideal population size of the new districts. This means that District 1 will need to expand its current boundaries to meet the ideal population threshold. All other NC districts would need to shrink; District 2 in Wake and District 12 in Mecklenburg have the largest projected populations and would need to shrink the most.
Which states gained seats in the House?
Six states gained seats in the House:
- Texas (+2)
- North Carolina
Which states lost seats in the House?
Seven states lost a seat in the House, including California, which lost a seat for the first time ever:
- New York
- West Virginia
According to the Bureau, New York narrowly lost its seat: had it had just 89 more people, it would have retained its House seat. This is the smallest apportionment margin observed between 1940 and 2020.
Were there any apportionment surprises?
Yes – there was less movement than we anticipated prior to the release. Based on 2020 population estimates, Election Data Services projected that a total of 10 seats would change, with 7 states gaining and 10 states losing. Florida and Texas were predicted to gain multiple seats (+2 and +3, respectively) and New York was predicted to lose up to 2 seats.
Based on 2020 Census results, just 7 seats changed: 6 states gained seats and 7 states lost seats.
What was different than predicted?
- Arizona did not gain a seat.
- Florida (+1) and Texas (+2) gained one fewer seat than initially predicted. According to Census Bureau representatives, the 2020 counts for both these states were lower than their population estimates but by a small margin (within 1%).
- Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island did not lose a seat.
- New York lost only one seat – and narrowly, at that: it needed only 89 more residents to keep the seat it lost.
*Errata: This post originally reported North Carolina’s apportionment population (10,453,948) instead of the resident population (10,439,388). The apportionment total includes military and federal civilian employees living overseas. This population is used for apportionment only.