U.S. releases 2020 Census results

Oregon gains seat in U.S. House as state experiences population increase

April 28, 2021 — One of the fundamental exercises of American democracy was completed on Monday, April 26, as the U.S. Census Bureau delivered to U.S. President Joseph Biden the 2020 Apportionment Results. The delivery of the 2020 Census results to the president is an important step in the official ratification of the results, which showed the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281. 

The U.S. resident population in 2010 was 308,745,538. This means there was an increase of 22,703,743, a growth rate of 7.4 percent — the second-slowest rate of population increase on record. 

The release of Census data is always an area of keen interest because the principle of apportionment, the constitutional purpose of the count, determines the number of representatives each state sends to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. More than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs is distributed using Census data.

The 2020 Census population data includes the resident population of the 50 states, plus a count of the U.S. military personnel and federal civilian employees living outside the United States (and their dependents living with them) who can be allocated to a home state.

Oregon will be one of the beneficiaries of an increase in population as the state will gain one member in Congress, determined after a two-and-a-half-month delay in completing the census.

Oregon saw a 10.6 percent increase in resident population — from 3,848,606 to 4,237,256 — and will consequently gain one voice in the lower house of Congress. Each member of the Oregon delegation to the House represents 706,917 residents.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was quick to acknowledge the increase in state representation, saying after the conference, “Every Oregonian's voice matters, and it is great news that as our state continues to grow, we will get an additional seat in Congress to represent us. Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2020 Census to make sure you were counted.”

The challenges presented to the Census Bureau in 2020 were unprecedented, according to the acting Director of the Census Bureau, Ron Jarmin, but he insisted results of last year’s census were accurate and thorough. Hurricanes, wildfires, lockdowns and civil unrest were all factors which Jarmin indicated combined to form serious challenges to collecting accurate information.

“Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, the completeness and accuracy of these first 2020 Census results are comparable with recent censuses. We had numerous quality checks built into collecting the data, and we have conducted one of the most comprehensive reviews in recent census history during data processing,” Jarmin said. “We are proud to release these first results from the 2020 Census today. These results reflect the tireless commitment from the entire Census Bureau team to produce the highest-quality statistics that will continue to shape the future of our country.”

Jarmin was just one of the high-profile speakers at the bureau’s YouTube national unveiling conference, and a subsequent question-and-answer session with the media and the public on Monday, April 26.

The Census Bureau has attempted to distribute data and demographic results more widely during this census cycle, by using social media and virtual conferences to share the department’s results.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo opened the meeting with praise for the agency and thanks for the participation of those being counted.

“The American public deserves a big thank you for its overwhelming response to the 2020 Census,” she said. “Despite many challenges, our nation completed a census for the 24th time. This act is fundamental to our democracy and a declaration of our growth and resilience. I also want to thank the team at the U.S. Census Bureau, who overcame unprecedented challenges to collect and produce high-quality data that will inform decision-making for years to come.”

Later, Jarmin responded to questions regarding the accuracy of the count and directed the public’s attention to the bureau’s website, which detailed the following steps which were activated specifically for the most recent census.

To adapt to last year’s unique challenges, the bureau provided additional opportunities for everyone to respond, including:

• Deploying staff to places in low-responding areas to answer questions and help people respond to the 2020 Census.

• Introducing phone calls instead of, or in addition to, sending census takers door to door to follow up with households that hadn’t responded yet.

• Extending data collection by 2.5 months to allow more time for households to respond and for follow up with those that didn’t.

• Expanding outreach through more than 400,000 national and local partners and through national advertising to encourage the public to respond online, by phone or by mail or to cooperate with census takers.

• Working with local tribal leaders to hire individuals already living on reservation lands as census takers.

• Adapting telephone operations to allow social distancing in the call centers and to permit callbacks when sufficient operators were not available due to COVID-19 restrictions.  

• Sending teams of skilled enumerators from other parts of the country closer to finishing to areas lagging behind after hurricane damage.

• Changing field procedures to minimize necessary in-person contact with the public, such as leaving census invitations on mailboxes and training enumerators to exercise social distancing during contact with respondents. 

• Providing and encouraging electronic response options for group quarters facilities, such as nursing homes and detention centers.

In addition to these newly released statistics, Raimondo delivered population counts to the president to be used for apportioning the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In accordance with Title 2 of the U.S. Code, a congressionally defined formula is applied to the apportionment population to distribute the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the states.

Texas will gain two seats in the House of Representatives; four states in addition to Oregon will gain one seat each (Colorado, Florida, Montana and North Carolina); seven states will lose one seat each (California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and and West Virginia); and the remaining states’ number of seats will not change. Upon receipt of the apportionment counts, the president will transmit them to the 117th Congress. 

The reapportioned Congress will be the 118th, which convenes in January 2023.

Due to modifications to processing activities, COVID-19 data collections delays, and the Census Bureau’s obligation to provide high-quality data, states are expected to receive redistricting data by Aug. 18, and the full redistricting data will be delivered by Sept. 30. 

“Our work doesn’t stop here,” Jarmin stated. “Now that the apportionment counts are delivered, we will begin the additional activities needed to create and deliver the redistricting data that were previously delayed due to COVID-19. … We are confident that today’s 2020 Census results meet our high data quality standards.”

The initial release of information from the latest census has been posted at census.gov.