Think of them as the power numbers.
The U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday released the first batch of numbers from the 2010 Census. They are not the most detailed numbers. They don’t answer the interesting question of how many people really are living in Lawrence. They don’t provide detailed information about race, gender, education or any other category.
But Tuesday’s numbers are the most politically powerful numbers that will be released for the next 10 years. The Census Bureau provided population totals for each state and also determined how many seats in Congress each state shall have for the next decade. Those numbers, of course, also determine how many electoral votes each state may cast, meaning the numbers will have major implications for the 2012 presidential election.
Kansas fared as most everyone expected: It held steady and kept its four seats in the House of Representatives. But Tuesday’s numbers do provide some interesting facts to think about for the state, our neighbors and the nation. Here are a few:
• Kansas is lagging behind the country. Kansas’ population grew by 6.1 percent since 2000. The nation’s population grew by 9.7 percent. Kansas added 164,700 people and has a total population of 2,853,118.
• America is slowing down. The 9.7 percent growth rate was the country’s second slowest of the last century. The slowest was 7.3 percent during the 1930s and the Great Depression. At least Kansas fared much better during this economic downturn than that one. During the 1930s, Kansas’ population fell 4.3 percent.
• Kansas isn’t falling behind as fast as it once was. It is no surprise that Kansas’ population did not grow as fast as the nation’s. It hasn’t since at least 1910. But the difference between Kansas’ growth rate and the nation’s growth rate — a difference of 3.6 percentage points — is the smallest it has been this century. For the last century, Kansas’ growth rate has lagged behind the nation’s growth rate by 7.3 percentage points.
• Kansas isn’t keeping up with its neighbors. Every state that borders Kansas had a higher growth rate than Kansas. They were: Colorado: 16.9 percent; Oklahoma: 8.7 percent; Missouri: 7.0 percent; and Nebraska: 6.7 percent.
• At least we’re not Missouri. Missouri is among the 10 states losing at least one Congressional seat. It will lose one. The other states losing out are: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. All states are losing one seat, except New York and Ohio, which will lose two each.
• Everything is bigger in Texas, including its Congressional delegation. Texas will add four seats. Florida also will add two. Six other states will each add one seat. They are: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.
• The country continues to grow to the south and to the west. The five states with the largest percentage growth rates were: Nevada, 35.1 percent; Arizona, 24.6 percent; Utah, 23.8 percent; Idaho, 21.1 percent; and Texas, 20.6 percent.
• The Northeast and the Midwest are slowing down. The five states with the smallest growth rates were: Michigan, negative 0.6 percent; Rhode Island, 0.4 percent; Louisiana, 1.4 percent; Ohio, 1.6 percent; and New York, 2.1 percent.
• Kansas isn’t very dense. Kansas has 34.9 people per square mile, up from 32.9 in 2000. That ranks us 42nd in terms of density, which is the same ranking we had in 2000. The density of our neighbors: Colorado, 48.5 per square mile; Missouri, 87.1; Nebraska, 23.8; and Oklahoma, 54.7.
• Kansas has average representation. No, that’s not a political statement. Each U.S. House member in Kansas will represent 715,953 people. That’s near the national average of 710,767 people.
• Local population numbers — broken down to the block level — will start being released in February. They will continue to be released — state by state — through March. Those numbers will be used to redraw the state’s Congressional districts.