Q&A: What the 2010 Census Results Mean for the States

Q&A: What the 2010 Census Results Mean for the States

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The first results of the 2010 census were released last week, setting off a new round of political sniping, as Republicans gloated about potential gains in the number of congressional seats in the South and West. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, host of The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM–1460 AM in Los Angeles, spoke with Arnold Jackson (shown above), the census's associate director.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: Who gained and who lost in numbers in the 2010 census?

Arnold Jackson: There were 12 congressional seats reassigned. I prefer not to use the terms “winners” and “losers’ because this is a mandated, democratic process. Those states that will have more congressional seats are Texas, Florida, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. States that lost seats are Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and New York. There are 10 states that will have fewer seats and eight states that will have more.

EOH: Why are we doing the census every 10 years—what is the point?

AJ:
The Census is constitutionally mandated every 10 years and has been done since 1870. We are required to conduct a Census of the resident population and then to use the information [to apportion seats in] the House of Representatives. We [count] the resident population and add in overseas military and civilian [personnel], excluding the District of Columbia. That resident population becomes the apportionment population.

EOH: It appears that the Hispanic population has driven up the numbers across the Sunbelt states. Are you surprised at that and what are the long-range implications?

AJ:
I am not surprised, because we not only conduct the 2010 census, we also do a number of very prominent surveys, and they have been telling us about [the growth in the Latino population] over the past 10 years. We do demographic analysis and take a look at immigration, based on a snapshot estimate of the national population. This is the framework of the full Census count that was done in 2010. We saw [that] a large part of the change [in Latino population is] attributable to immigration. … A large portion of the growth was in the South and West. There was much less growth in the Midwest and Northeast. Baby boomers moving [to the Sunbelt] also contributed to the change in demographics.

EOH: Because much of the growth has been in the Sunbelt states, has illegal immigration had an impact on that growth?

AJ:
All residents are counted, which includes [anyone who has] a usual place of residence in the United States as of April 1, 2010. It is not the Census Bureau’s domain to determine who fits the definition as to illegal versus legal residence. That is not something that we really have much to do with.

EOH: Is there some distortion in the Census count because of the recession?

AJ:
The nation’s population is a moving target, and [claims] of distortion can be made whenever you take the Census. Our economy goes up and down. Yes, we were coming out of a recession; however I would refer interested parties to go to American Fact Finder and look at the American Community Surveys data. That information has been pooled from 2009, so that you can begin to analyze average numbers [over] a period in time and get some [sense as to] whether the recession really affected [population shifts].

I’m not sure the fact that we were coming out of a recession [had much of an effect on the 2010 count]. I will tell you that because of the recession, we were able to get a great number of fine people to help us, which led to a great Census.