Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
308,745,538 Americans and Other Census News
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 03:31 PM
Government statisticians may not be born entertainers, but god knows the men and women of the U.S. Census Bureau try. Tuesday's big announcement -- the biggest census event in 10 years -- managed to ramp up the suspense before finally delivering the goods.
How many people live in this country? Which states grew the most? Which states are going to ask for a recount?
Answers forthcoming. But first, a video featuring some of the notables who publicized the Census outreach: Donny Osmond, Dora the Explorer, Karl Rove. They are all America.
After that, Dr. Robert Groves took reins of the festivities. Groves is the Census Bureau's director and a survey methodologist of note (he literally wrote the book, "Survey Methodology"). He walked us through a history of the census from 1790, how this census was completed under budget ($1.87 billion saved), and so on. Streamlined management, enhanced productivity, etc. At times, it felt like he was teasing the American people, working them into a frenzy of anticipation.
And then, mercifully, he said it: "The resident U.S. population is 308,745,538 persons." The room erupted in applause.
Groves then settled into a groove, laying out the major demographic shifts over the last 10 years. For the average person, it's pretty interesting material. The country had grown by 9.7 percent since 2000, with Nevada experiencing the most explosive growth of any state (35.1 percent), while Michigan had the greatest decline.
But the census also has direct bearing on governance in this country and on the power balance between the states. New York gained in population, but by only 2.3 percent, which left it 5th from the bottom. Upon redistricting, based on these latest census figures, New York will have only 27 House representatives, down from 29 (there are 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives).
On the other hand, Texas grew by 20 percent, and is set to gain 4 seats. Florida also gained, and will now have as many seats as New York. The last 80 or so years haven't been kind to New York power brokers, who probably long for the 45 seats they had (and the corresponding clout), back in the 1930s.
New Jersey is also losing a seat, while Connecticut holds steady.
The Bureau will be releasing additional information, reams of it, in the months ahead. To get a better sense of the population shifts underway across the country, and how it will affect Congress, check out the interactive map below. Or visit this page.