Annual Population Numbers Indicate Alabama Might Hold On to Its Congressional Seats — Barely

Courtesy of Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama

The U.S. Census Bureau’s annual population estimate of U.S. residents indicates Alabama could be pitted against New York for the possible loss of a U.S. House of Representatives seat after the decennial census is released.

The estimates as they stand now would put Alabama’s population just high enough to keep its present seven representatives, with New York losing a seat, according to an analysis by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.

The decennial census count expected to be released in February reflects the country’s population as of April 1, 2020. That count continued through September. Those numbers then are used to calculate how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House. They also are used to determine much of the federal funding that comes to the state.

The annual numbers, released last month, measure the population as of July 1.

They show that Alabama added 13,567 residents between July 1, 2019, and the same date in 2020, bringing the state population to 4.92 million, according to an analysis of census data released by PARCA.

Using the annual figures, PARCA projected Alabama would maintain its seven congressional districts by a margin of 6,210 residents. Under that scenario, New York, which has a declining population, would lose two congressional seats.

Between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, New York’s population declined by 125,355 people.

But it is where the two states stood three months earlier, on April 1, that will determine the fate of congressional seats. That count is supposed to tally the population before the spike in deaths from COVID-19 and an exodus from New York because of the virus outbreak, according to PARCA.

If by April 1, Alabama had not achieved its needed net gain in population, or if New York’s population had not dropped by much, the tables might turn. New York might lose just one seat, and Alabama might lose one.

In percentage growth during the past decade, Alabama ranked 26 among the 50 states with its 3% growth rate, according to census estimates.