The count is in, and it counted.
The nation’s population declined to its slowest rate of growth since the Great Depression.
Our state’s population grew almost 2.8 percent in the last decade, to a resident population of 643,077, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The figures show that in the last decade, Vermont added 17,336 people. However, Vermont will continue to have only one representative to the U.S. House.
The data also showed Vermont continues to be hobbled by an aging population that has lead to a shrinking workforce and a decline in the number of children in the state’s schools, even with the state working hard to attract new residents.
Vermont’s growth outpaced three states that lost population from 2010 to 2020. Those states were Illinois, Mississippi and West Virginia.
Neighboring New Hampshire saw a definite surge. New Hampshire was the second fastest growing state in New England over the last decade.
That state’s resident population on April 1 was 1,377,529, a 4.6 percent increase from 2010. Massachusetts was the fastest growing state in New England, seeing a 7.4 percent increase. That matches the 7.4 percent resident population increase in the nation as a whole.
With more deaths than births, all of New Hampshire’s population gain in recent years has been due to people moving into the state, according to an analysis published in December by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy. That in-migration had slowed and then stopped after the Great Recession but has begun returning, researchers said.
Previous research also has shown recent migration gains were greatest among young adults. That helps offset the mortality rate among older residents at a time when the three northern New England states have the oldest median ages in the country. (Vermont was hoping to see a similar trend.)
Altogether, the U.S. population rose to 331,449,281 last year, which the Census Bureau said was a 7.4 percent increase — the second-slowest increase ever. Experts say that paltry pace reflects the combination of an aging population, slowing immigration and the scars of the Great Recession, which led many young adults to delaying marriage and starting families, according to the Associated Press.
During the census, the U.S. Census Bureau counts the number of people who live in each state on census day of the census year — in this case, April 1, 2020.
The bureau also counts all military and U.S. government employees and their dependents who live overseas on that day — and determines which states they claim as their residences when in the U.S.
Any military personnel who are only temporarily deployed overseas are not counted where they live, but in the states where the military bases from which they were deployed are located.
Those numbers deliver a total number of people who live in each state, for apportionment purposes.
When determining how many seats a state gets, there are a few constraints. First, is that there are 435 seats and 50 states; the District of Columbia participates in the Electoral College, but gets only a nonvoting delegate in Congress.
In addition, states cannot get partial seats. Because every state must get at least one seat, the first 50 seats are assigned automatically, one per state.
The Constitution does not specify the method of apportioning the rest of the congressional seats, but the underlying assumption is best summarized as “one person, one vote” — every person residing in every state should be included, and no person should have more of a voice than any other.
So what does the most recent data suggest?
Starting in 2023 — after the next congressional elections — seven states will have fewer seats in Congress than they do now, and six will have more.
These calculations and changes are the primary purpose of the government’s efforts every 10 years to count all the people who live in the United States. It’s written into the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the number of House seats a state has helps determine the size of its delegation to the Electoral College, increasing or decreasing state residents’ power to pick the president.
The seven states that each lost one seat in the House as a result of the 2020 census are California, from 53 to 52; Illinois, from 18 to 17; Michigan, from 14 to 13; New York, from 27 to 26; Ohio, from 16 to 15; Pennsylvania, from 18 to 17; and West Virginia, from 3 to 2.
The six states that gained one or more seats after the 2020 count are Colorado, from 7 to 8; Florida, from 27 to 28; Montana, from 1 to 2; North Carolina, from 13 to 14; Oregon, from 5 to 6; and Texas, which had the biggest increase, went from 36 to 38.
In other words, the count mattered.
— The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, April 26