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NC won’t catch Georgia, but census shows it will likely get another seat in Congress

How America has changed: 225 years of statistics

In 1840, males outnumbered females 8.68 million to 8.38 million in the United States. By 1950, there were more females than males for the first time in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. See other statistics showing how America has
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In 1840, males outnumbered females 8.68 million to 8.38 million in the United States. By 1950, there were more females than males for the first time in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. See other statistics showing how America has

North Carolina’s population is no longer growing at the rate it did in recent decades, but it’s still enough to likely get another seat in Congress after the 2020 census.

North Carolina added an estimated 112,820 residents in the year ending last July 1, bringing the state’s population to 10,383,620, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday.

The state remains the ninth largest in the country, after Georgia and ahead of Michigan. Georgia added 106,420 residents.

North Carolina’s population increased 1.1 percent in the past year, outpacing the national growth rate of 0.6 percent. The Census Bureau estimates that nearly 327.2 million people lived in the U.S. on July 1.

Though it may not feel like it in the Triangle or Charlotte, population growth in North Carolina has eased up this decade.

The state is on pace to grow about 11 percent between 2010 and 2020, the slowest rate of growth since the 1860s. The state’s population grew an average of 15.6 percent per decade in the 20th century and swelled 18.5 percent in the first decade of the 21st.

Still, the state remains on pace to pick up a 14th congressional seat after the decennial census in 2020, according to Election Data Services, a Virginia-based consulting firm. Election Data Services analyzes census and political data and for several years has been predicting that North Carolina will gain another congressional district based on growth trends.

Nothing in the new numbers released Wednesday changes that prediction, said Kimball Brace, the group’s president.

Brace said based on current populations, 13 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives would shift to fast-growing states from those that are growing more slowly or losing population. Congress capped the size of the House in 1929, with each state getting at least one and the rest divvied up based on population.

Texas stands to be the big winner, gaining two seats, Brace said, while North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Oregon would each gain one. They would come at the expense of New York, West Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, which would each lose a seat.

Brace said if population trends continue, there could be more seats moving from state to state after the 2020 census, but North Carolina’s 14th seat is a near certainty.

North Carolina just missed getting a 14th congressional seat after the 2010 census, falling short of taking one from Minnesota by less than 16,000 residents. South Carolina gained a seat that time around, but doesn’t stand to get one this time.

If North Carolina does gain a 14th seat in Congress, it will be the most House members the state has ever sent to Washington. North Carolina had 13 representatives in the House in the early 1800s, before the nation’s expansion and population growth in other states reduced its delegation to seven in 1860.

Despite the slower pace, North Carolina was the 10th fastest-growing state in the country last year, just behind South Carolina, which grew by 62,908 residents or 1.3 percent.

Nine states lost population in the past year, in all parts of the country. They include New York and Connecticut in the Northeast, Mississippi and Louisiana in the South, Illinois in the Midwest, and West Virginia, Wyoming, Hawaii and Alaska.

Births continue to outnumber deaths in the U.S., but at a declining rate. The states with stagnant or declining populations are those that aren’t attracting new residents, according to Sandra Johnson, a demographer and statistician for the Census Bureau.

“Many states have seen fewer births and more deaths in recent years,” Johnson said in a statement. “If those states are not gaining from either domestic or international migration they will experience either low population growth or outright decline.”

The fastest-growing states in the past year were Nevada and Idaho, at 2.1 percent, followed by Utah, Arizona, Florida and Washington.

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Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling

Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 19 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.

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