State grows slowly, but enough to keep House seats

WASHINGTON-Connecticut’s population has grown by nearly 5 percent over the last decade, surpassing 3.57 million residents in 2010, according to the results of the latest decennial Census released on Tuesday.

The state experienced a net gain of 168,532 residents in the last ten years, growing 4.9 percent, from 3,405,565 people in 2000 to 3,574,097 this year.

Connecticut’s relatively modest bump means the state will neither gain nor lose a U.S. House seat in Washington, even as the new data is used to redraw congressional districts across the country.

The fresh figures are vital not only for redistricting federal and state legislative seats, but also for determining how billions of dollars in federal aid to states and local communities is divvied up.

“The 2010 Census will serve as a backbone for our political and economic system for years to come,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves, speaking at a news conference in Washington unveiling the official 2010 counts.

At stake, he noted, is how $400 billion in annual federal funding is allocated for everything from education to housing to transportation.

The new demographic data showed that nationwide, the U.S. population now stands at 308,745,538 people. That represents a 9.7 percent growth rate, the second lowest since the 1930s, when experts believe the Great Depression pushed down the U.S. birth rate.

The next lowest growth rate was 9.8 percent, from 1980 to 1990.

The new 2010 figures also reflect the continuation of a decades-long population shift within the country-away from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West.

Overall, population in Northeastern states grew by 3.2 percent, the smallest increase of the country’s 4 regions. By contrast, the population in Southern states ballooned by 17.3 percent. And for the first time in the country’s history, the 2010 census showed that the West was more populous than the Midwest.

So while Connecticut will maintain its 5 seats in the U.S. House, 18 other states will see a shift. Arizona, Florida, and Texas, for example, will all gain seats in Congress, while New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Missouri will lose seats.

In addition, the average population size of each congressional district will now be 710,767 constituents. In Connecticut, the average congressional district will have 716,326 residents, up from 681,907 currently.

Connecticut remains one the nation’s most densely populated states, with 738.1 people per square mile, putting the state at 6th in the nation. That’s the same position it held in previous decades.

The 2010 census is the 23rd decennial count of the U.S. population. The first, in 1790, tallied up a population of 3.9 million people. And in that year, each U.S. House member represented about 34,000 constituents.

Groves said that more detailed data, including demographic breakdowns of the U.S. population by gender and race, will be released in the coming months.

“There is much, much more to come, revealing how our nation has changed over the last 10 years,” he said.