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Iowa Gains Population, Loses Congressional Seat

Iowa Gains Population, Loses Congressional Seat

New U.S. Census figures show Iowa has slow steady growth, but not enough to keep the state from losing a seat in Congress.

Data from the 2010 Census was released by the U.S. Census Bureau a couple weeks ago and it show Iowa's population increasing by 120,031 residents since the 2000 census. However the increase in population was not enough to prevent Iowa's loss of a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Iowa will move from five congressional districts to four. The new total population for the state is 3,046,355, an increase of 4.1% over 2000.

Since the 1940 census, Congress has used the Method of Equal Proportions to seat the House of Representatives. Each state is assigned one seat. Then the apportionment formula allocates the remaining 385 congressional seats one at a time among the 50 states until all 435 seats are assigned.

Iowa is not the only state to lose a congressional seat. States with losses include New York and Ohio, each lost two seats. States losing one seat are Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Texas gained the most in Congress with an increase of four seats. Other states which increased were Florida which gained two seats, and Washington, Utah, South Carolina, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona which each gained one seat.

Iowa will lose some clout in Congress, with one less representative

Iowa will have less influence on the federal level in Washington, D.C. with one less Congressional representative. The Iowa Legislature at the State Capitol in Des Moines can be expected to have a more urban and suburban profile after state officials redraw legislative boundaries next year, based on the new population trends. Updated local data that will be used when officials redraw Iowa's legislative districts will not be available until February.

However, census tracking through last year shows a handful of urban and suburban Iowa counties leading the state's population growth, and the rest of the state's 99 counties' populations are flat or shrinking. Lawmakers from populated areas are reaching—if they haven't already achieved—majority status. With that clout they could mount efforts to change how the state of Iowa finances schools, transportation projects and a number of other things.

Iowa Legislature at State Capitol will also have a more urban look

Still, Iowa's rural coalition in the statehouse is expected to retain much of its strength because of the cohesion that has been developed among rural legislators over the decades as rural Republican and rural Democrat lawmakers have worked together, fighting for survival.

"The tension that will come out of this is not Democrats versus Republicans. It's urban versus rural," says former Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Sioux City Republican. "Look at the growth in population, where it's occurring in Iowa. It's the Des Moines suburbs. It's the Davenport area. It's the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids corridor."

Gary Krob, coordinator of the State Library of Iowa's State Data Center program, says that despite the loss of a seat in Congress, Iowa's population has continued to grow. "Slow, steady growth has been the defining feature in Iowa's population for more than a hundred years. The data from Census 2010 continues to show just that," notes Krob.

Although the state has gained population since the 2000 census, Iowa's growth rate of 4.1% lags behind the U.S. and most other states. Nevada is the fastest growing state, with a 35.1% increase since the 2000 census. Other states growing by more than 20% since 2000 are Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Texas.

While Iowa grew 4.1%, that growth rate lags most other states

Among Iowa's neighbors, South Dakota has seen the fastest growth with a 7.9% increase since 2000, followed by Minnesota (7.8%), Missouri (7%), Nebraska (6.7%), Wisconsin (6%) and Illinois (3.3%). 

The new total population of the United States is 308,745,538, an increase of 9.7% since the last full count of residents in the 2000 census. The latest population data, maps and charts for Iowa and the U.S. can be found on the State Data Center Web site at  More information about the 2010 census can be found on the U.S. Census Bureau's Web site at  

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