Fri, 25 Jun 2021

WASHINGTON D.C. - Population growth in the United States has dropped to its lowest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s, even as more people have continued to shift to living in the South and the West, boosting their congressional representation at the expense of the Northeast and the Midwest, data from the US Census Bureau has shown.

As per the first groupings of data released by the agency, the US population grew to 331,449,281 last year, a 7.4-percent increase against the last decade - but the second-slowest rate since the count began.

And even a recovering economy may not reverse the trend, warned William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.

The new ten-year census data will be used to reapportion congressional seats based upon state population figures, also known as the apportionment count.

Ultimately, the count determines how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is allocated each year.

Based on the latest figures, Republican Sunbelt giants Texas and Florida have added enough residents to gain congressional seats: Texas has added two, while Florida gained one congressional seat.

Meanwhile, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana, and Oregon also gained one seat each.

With the South weaning away major manufacturing industries, such as automobiles, from the Rust Belt, North Carolina and Texas are set to become the intellectual powerhouses of the new economy, according to William Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Houston's Rice University.

In contrast, one-time engines of growth, New York and California, have recorded reduced population growth, which is expected to affect their political clout.

Slowing migration to California, the nation's most populous state, has cost it one congressional seat, a first in its 170-year history. Soaring home prices have also prompted many Californians to relocate to other Western states.

"Californians are taking their votes and moving to other places," Frey noted, as quoted by the Associated Press.

The relocations have helped turn Colorado and Nevada into Democratic states and made Arizona competitive.

However, it is not clear whether this migration to GOP-run states would benefit the Republicans in the long run, with experts opining that it could result in giving Democrats an edge instead.

"What's happening is growth in Sunbelt states that are trending Democratic or will soon trend Democratic," Frey said.

"Texas hasn't flipped blue yet as a state, but the blue population centers are growing really fast," said Fulton.

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