Pennsylvania will lose one congressional seat, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Monday.
The Keystone State will lose the congressional seat thanks to the reapportionment that will follow the census. Pennsylvania losing a seat was widely expected. Ohio, West Virginia, California, Michigan, Illinois and New York also each lost a single seat.
It was also widely expected that the Sun Belt would pick up congressional seats, and that turned out to be the case. Fast-growing Texas will be gaining two seats, and Colorado, Oregon, Florida, Montana and North Carolina will each be gaining a seat.
It was the ninth census in a row that has seen Pennsylvania lose at least one congressional seat. Following the 2010 census, the commonwealth also lost a seat. Between 1940 and 2000, Pennsylvania routinely lost two or three seats with each census. In the 1910s and 1920s, Pennsylvania had 36 congressional representatives in Washington, D.C. After this census, it will have 17 members in its congressional delegation.
According to the census, the population of Pennsylvania is 13,002,700. The state’s population actually increased by 2.4%, but the rate of that increase was not comparable to other states. It also was not comparable to the 10-year period between 2000 and 2010, when Pennsylvania grew by 3.4%.
Neighboring West Virginia led the nation in population loss. Its population contracted by 3.2%.
Population growth across the United States was relatively slow in the 10 years between 2010 and 2020. The 331,449,281 residents across the country represented an increase of 7.4%, lower than the 9.7% between 2010 and 2020. It’s the second-lowest growth rate in U.S. history, according Dr. Ron S. Jarmin, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s second only to the 10-year span from 1930 and 1940, when the U.S. was ravaged by the Great Depression.
Over the last 10 years, the South has grown by 10.2%, the West by 9.2%, the Northeast by 4.1% and the Midwest by 3.1%. Jarmin explained that since 1940, 84 seats congressional seats have shifted out of the Northeast and Midwest and into the South and West.
President Joe Biden will now deliver the results to Congress, and redistricting data will be provided to states by Sept. 30. Exactly which congressional seat will be axed is sure to be a subject of intense speculation and jockeying in the weeks and months ahead. Some observers believe U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb’s 17th District seat could be in jeopardy, particularly with Republicans in control of drawing the state’s congressional lines in Harrisburg, and the fact that Lamb, a Democrat, only won reelection last November by 1% over Republican Sean Parnell.
Even as census officials were talking about the results, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, an advocacy group led by Eric Holder, a former U.S. attorney general in the Obama administration, emailed out a news release urging that the 15th District seat held by Republican Glenn Thompson should be eliminated. The 15th District includes rural counties north of Pittsburgh, including Indiana, Armstrong and Venango counties.