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U.S. Population Grew at Slowest Pace in More Than 80 Years

The U.S. population grew in the past year at its slowest rate in over eight decades, with growth in the South and West continuing to outpace the Northeast and Midwest, according to figures the Census Bureau released Wednesday.

The numbers, which cover the year ended July 1, show the country’s population rose by 0.6% to 327.2 million people. That was the lowest rate since 1937 in data going back to 1901, according to William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

The figures offer fresh clues to which states are likely to gain or lose congressional seats after the 2020 census.

If the House of Representatives were apportioned based on this year’s data, Texas would gain two seats, while Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Oregon would each gain one.

States losing a seat would be Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia, with Rhode Island falling to a single representative.

“The future is in the West, and to some degree in the South, and that’s where the political winds will blow,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston.

“On balance it probably favors the Democrats, given the kind of demographic change that is occurring in many of these Western states,” he said, adding that new seats would likely come in fast-growing metropolitan areas that are more heavily Democratic.

Still, states that backed President Trump in 2016 would gain a net two votes in the Electoral College if House seats were allocated according to the new census numbers. A state’s Electoral College vote is equal to the number of its representatives plus its two senators.