In 2010 the US Census was conducted, and you may recall a few months ago filling out a questionnaire that you received in the mail or had someone come to your house and ask you some basic questions. This was the decennial or ‘Every Decade’ count of the US resident population of our fine country.
The U.S. resident population includes the total number of people in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, was 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2 percent over the 248,709,873 counted during the 1990 Census. This data will be released by the Census Bureau before December 31, 2010.
I have taken the following information from the US Census Bureau website, about the 2010 Census:
“Apportionment” is the process of dividing the 435 memberships, or seats, in the House of Representatives among the 50 states based on the population figures collected during the decennial census.
The first decennial census was conducted in 1790 and has been taken every ten years as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Since the first census, conducted by Thomas Jefferson, the decennial count has been the basis for our representative form of government as envisioned by our nation’s Founding Fathers. In 1790, each member of the House of Representatives represented about 34,000 residents. Today, the House has more than quadrupled in size, and each member represents about 19 times as many constituents. In 2000, each member of the House of Representatives represented a population of about 647,000.
The apportionment population consists of the resident population of the 50 states, plus the overseas military and federal civilian employees and their dependents living with them who could be allocated to a state. The populations of the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are excluded from the apportionment population because they do not have voting seats in the U. S. House of Representatives.
The first population counts from the 2010 Census for the nation and states, along with the apportionment totals, will be released by December 31, 2010. The apportionment totals are calculated by a congressionally defined formula in accordance with Title 2 of the U.S. Code.
Article 1, Section 2, of the United States Constitution states:
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers…The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”
Therein lies the primary mandate of the U.S. census, apportionment of the House of Representatives. Since that first census in 1790, five methods of apportionment have been used. The current method used, the Method of Equal Proportions, was adopted by congress in 1941 following the census of 1940. This method assigns seats in the House of Representatives according to a “priority” value. The priority value is determined by multiplying the population of a state by a “multiplier.” For example, following the 1990 census, each of the 50 states was given one seat out of the current total of 435. The next, or 51st seat, went to the state with the highest priority value and thus became that state’s second seat. This continued until all 435 seats had been assigned to a state. This is how it is done.
Another major use for decennial census data is for geographically defining state legislative districts, a “redistricting” process that begins in 2011. The census data allow state officials to realign congressional and state legislative districts in their states, taking into account population shifts since the last census and assuring equal representation for their constituents in compliance with the “one-person, one-vote” principle of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Soon, by the end of December, we will know the results of the 2010 Census.