ATLANTA – Georgia will not be allocated additional congressional seats by the U.S. Census during the coming decade for the first time since the 1980s.
The first 2020 Census numbers released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau show Georgia will retain the same 14 U.S. House districts the Peach State was awarded following the 2010 Census. Combined with the state’s two U.S. senators, that will give Georgia 16 electoral votes for the 2024 and 2028 presidential elections.
Georgia is among 37 states that will neither gain nor lose congressional seats, Ron Jarmin, the Census Bureau’s acting director, told reporters during a news conference. Only 13 states will gain or lose seats, the smallest shift since 1941, he said.
The state of Texas will gain two congressional seats, while five other states – Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon – will gain one each.
Each of seven states – California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia – will lose one seat.
Jarmin said the relatively small number of states adding or losing congressional seats reflected the second slowest population growth in history for the nation as a whole.
The U.S. population as of April 1, 2020, stood at 331.4 million, up 7.4% over the 2010 Census.
The South was the nation’s fastest growing region during the past decade, with a population increase of 10.2%. The West was next at 9.2%. The Northeast and Midwest grew at much slower rates, 4.1% and 3.1% respectively.
Utah was the fastest growing state in the U.S., with a population increase of 18.4%. Among just three states that lost population during the last decade, West Virginia’s 3.2% decline was the largest.
Georgia remains the nation’s eighth-most populous state with a population of 10.7 million, up from 9.7 million a decade ago.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the 2020 Census was hampered not only by the coronavirus pandemic but by wildfires in the West and a particularly active hurricane season.
The Census Bureau originally expected to release the first numbers by the end of last month but was delayed.
“2020 brought unprecedented challenges,” Raimondo said. “The Census Bureau had to quickly adopt its operations to confront these challenges head on.”
The 2020 Census – the 24th once-a-decade population count in U.S. history going back to 1790 – was the first to be conducted online.
Jarmin said two-thirds of Americans completed the census on their own between January and March of last year. Census takers were sent out in person to contact those who did not respond online, with an emphasis on historically undercounted areas, he said.
The General Assembly will use local data the Census Bureau will release later this year to redraw Georgia’s congressional and legislative district boundaries to reflect shifts in population within the state.
Georgia had 10 congressional districts throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Rapid population growth led the Census Bureau to allocate an 11th House seat to Georgia following the 1990 Census, 13 seats after the 2000 population count and 14 seats following the 2010 Census.