New Apportionment Patterns

By Jim Ellis

March 27, 2017 — The Census Bureau released new population estimate data at the end of last week, and their information about the largest growth areas and places losing the most residents helps us project how the states will change in congressional representation. With almost four years remaining until reapportionment occurs at the end of 2020, much can still change, but the current population shift patterns provide some early clues as to what may be the future state gain/loss formula.

According to the Bureau’s new estimates, Maricopa County (Arizona) ended 2016 as the nation’s largest growing local entity replacing Harris County (Texas), which had been in the first position for the last eight consecutive years. The population estimates show that the Phoenix area gained 81,360 people from July 1, 2015 to the same date one year later. The Houston area net resident total increased 56,587 during the same period.

The calculations analyze the natural increase (number of births outpacing the number of deaths), net domestic migration, meaning those who move from one part of America to another, and net international migration figures (those coming from other countries). Maricopa County’s totals meant that an average of 222 new people came to or were born in the domain each and every day during the 2015-2016 yearly midpoints.

The calculations estimate that a net 43,189 people moved to the Phoenix area during the period, 25,428 came from the natural increase, and 10,188 arrived from other countries. Harris County surprisingly lost population in the net domestic migration category (down more than 16,000 people), yet still managed to end as the second fastest growth entity. The area had a high natural increase of 46,412, and a net international migration of 27,922 individuals.

Interestingly, in the last decade at a similar time, Maricopa County was also at the top of the growth list for the first three quarters of the 10-year period, but fell completely out of the population growth county during the past two years. Therefore, the rebound back to the top largest growing county for this tested annual period suggests new robust economic growth patterns for the central Arizona region.

Earlier, the Grand Canyon State appeared to be only on the cusp of gaining another congressional district in the 2020 reapportionment formula estimate, but this latest data would almost certainly push them into the clear gainer category. The pattern would continue what has occurred during the past 50 consecutive years, as Arizona has gained at least one seat since in every reapportionment since 1960, inclusive, and two from the 2000 formula. The state currently has nine congressional seats and now seems poised to claim 10.

The Harris County growth was a major factor in Texas gaining four seats in the last apportionment. Considering the Lone Star State possesses four of the largest growing 10 American counties in this latest population estimate, Tarrant (Ft. Worth) at five, Bexar (San Antonio) at number seven, and Dallas County placing ninth, lends support to the projection that Texas will again gain multiple seats, and be the top gainer for the second consecutive decade.

Texas has added seats in every decade since 1860, with the exception of the 1940 census, and in 10 of those apportionments gained more than one congressional district.

The fastest growing counties is another tested category. Here, San Juan County, Utah, gained a net 7.56 percent population during the July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016 period, which is tops in the nation. Together, Utah and Texas possess 60 percent of the top 10 fastest growing counties. Iowa, Florida, Oregon, and Washington also have counties in the top 10 fastest growing list. The addition of Dallas County, Iowa, that includes the city of West Des Moines, is a surprise since its state actually lost a seat in the 2010 apportionment.

The three top fastest growing metropolitan areas are The Villages in Florida, Myrtle Beach/Conway/North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Bend/Redmond in Oregon.

Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) topped the biggest losing counties list, dropping more than 0.4 percent of its population. This is due to more than 66,000 residents leaving the county. Detroit’s Wayne County lost the second-most number of people, and Baltimore County, Maryland, was third.

As has been the case for the past five reapportionments, Illinois is projected to lose another seat in 2020. Michigan has lost for three decades in a row, and will likely do so again. Pennsylvania, losing seats in every decade since 1930, looks to do so once more at the end of this decade.

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