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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Census results show above-average population growth in Northwest as Oregon, Montana gain congressional seats

Oregon and Montana are among the states gaining congressional seats after the latest U.S. Census Bureau data was released.  (U.S. Census Bureau)

WASHINGTON – Population data released by the Census Bureau on Monday showed above-average growth across the Northwest, with Idaho the second-fastest-growing state in the nation, while overall U.S. population growth has slowed.

The decennial tally of the nation’s residents showed Washington’s population grew by 14.6% and Idaho’s by 17.3%, eclipsed only by Utah’s 18.4%. Montana, Oregon and Colorado each gained an extra seat in the House of Representatives and, subsequently, the Electoral College, part of a shift in political power toward the South and West.

The overall U.S. population topped 331 million, up 7.4% from its 2010 level. While the nation’s population grew more slowly than it had in any decade since 1940, Washington’s population grew slightly faster than it did from 2000 to 2010. Meanwhile, Idaho’s growth rate fell from 21.1% in that same period.

Monday’s delivery of the population counts to President Joe Biden officially kicked off the reapportionment process, in which states can gain or lose congressional seats and Electoral College votes based on their population change. California and New York were among seven states set to lose a seat before the 2022 midterm elections, while Texas will gain two.

The bureau ranked Idaho No. 8 among 10 “runner-up states” that grew nearly enough to gain a seat in the House. In addition to the realignment of power in Congress and the process of choosing a president, the census results affect where federal spending and other resources are directed.

The Census Bureau conducted the count amid a range of challenges linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a shortened scheduled that raised fears some groups would be undercounted, especially Native Americans. The American Statistical Association is conducting an independent audit of the census results and expect to release their first report in June.