By Bobby Bordelon
The United States Census Bureau announced the first release of 2020 Census data, outlining population change on the state level throughout the country on Monday, April 26. Due to shifting demographics both in the state and in other states, West Virginia’s declining population is expected to lose a seat in the House of Representatives.
According to the briefing, West Virginia was one of three states to lose population since the 2010 Census.
The state currently has 1,793,716 residents and 1,329 overseas residents, such as those serving in the military. This is a drop from 1,852,994 residents and 6,821 overseas residents in the 2010 Census. Overall, the population dropped 3.2 percent.
The population change in the Mountain State and several other states means that West Virginia will be losing a seat in the House of Representatives due to the apportionment process.
“Apportionment is the process of distributing the 435 memberships, or seats, in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states based on the apportionment population counts from the 2020 Census,” explains the census website. “An apportionment has been made by the U.S. Congress based on each decennial census from 1790 to 2020 except for the 1920 Census. The apportionment population consists of the resident population of the 50 states, plus the overseas federal employees (military and civilian) and their dependents living with them who could be allocated to their home states.”
Currently the state is represented by David McKinley in the First District, Alex Monney in the Second District, and Carol Miller in the Third District, Greenbrier County’s current district. Redistricting will determine where each county falls in the new Congressional Districts.
“Our work doesn’t stop here,” explained Dr. Ron Jarmin, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “Now that the apportionment counts are delivered, we will begin the additional activities needed to create and deliver the redistricting data that were previously delayed due to COVID-19.”
The Census Bureau also announced:
– There are 331,449,281 total people in the United States, up 7.4 percent since the 2010 census.
– 13 states had changes to the apportionment in the House of Representatives.
– Seven states lost a seat, including California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
– Six states gained representation, including one seat for Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, while Texas gained two seats.
– The most populous state was California (39,538,223); the least populous was Wyoming (576,851).
– The state that gained the most numerically since the 2010 Census was Texas (up 3,999,944 to 29,145,505).
– The fastest-growing state since the 2010 Census was Utah (up 18.4% to 3,271,616).
– Puerto Rico’s resident population was 3,285,874, down 11.8% from 3,725,789 in the 2010 Census.
The press conference also sought to reassure the public that factors complicating the 2020 Census were also accounted for.
“While no census is perfect, we are confident that today’s 2020 Census results meet our high data quality standards,” Jarmin said. “We would not be releasing them to you otherwise. The Census Bureau is committed to sharing what we know, when we know it, to help the nation understand the quality of the 2020 census results. Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, the completeness and accuracy of these [results] are comparable to other recent censuses. We had numerous quality checks built into collecting the data and we have conducted one of the most comprehensive reviews in recent census history during the data processing.”
Currently, only state level data has been released, with future releases from the Census Bureau offering more specific information about individual counties and towns. The links to the press conference and data can be found at census.gov.