WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rhode Island will retain its two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, newly released data from the 2020 census shows. According to the decennial survey, there are 1,097,379 people living in the Ocean State, defying estimates of a shrinking population.
“Big news for Little Rhody!” Governor Dan McKee tweeted along with an article noting the preservation of Rhode Island’s Congressional seats. “We are grateful for the Complete Count Committee and everyone who worked incredibly hard to make sure Rhode Island was counted in the 2020 Census.”
“Today is a prime example of why community advocacy matters,” said RI Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea in a statement. “Not only has Rhode Island retained our representation in Congress and our four Electoral College votes — we have also ensured our share of billions of dollars in federal funding each year.”
The U.S. Census Bureau released the data Monday with U.S. Commerce Secretary and former Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. Despite unique challenges to the nationwide count last year, officials stressed that the data was collected fairly and was accurate.
“2020 brought unprecedented challenges — a global pandemic, destructive wildfires, the most active hurricane season on record and civil unrest across the country,” said Raimondo. “With all of that happening, the Census Bureau had to quickly adapt its operations to confront these challenges head on. But the dedicated civil servants at the Census Bureau, with the assistance of state and local governments, along with community groups, managed to overcome these hurdles and conduct a complete and accurate census count.”
Two-thirds of the nation completed the census on their own, and the survey was offered in 46 non-English languages, more than tripling the number that was offered in 2010.
As of April of last year, according to the data, Rhode Island saw a 4.3 percent population increase over its 2010 count of 1,052,567 people. With 1,061 people per square mile, the state ranks third in the nation for population density.
The 2020 census also found that the U.S. population had grown to 331,449,281 in 2020, a 7.4 percent increase since the 2010 count of 308,745,538 and the second-lowest growth rate in the country’s history. California is the state with the largest population at 39 million, while Wyoming has the least at approximately 576,000.
Per the survey, seven Congressional seats among 13 states will shift, the smallest number since the current method of calculating apportionment was adopted in 1941. Six states will gain seats — Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will all gain one while Texas will gain two. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will all lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The remaining states will not change,” said acting census bureau director Ron Jarmin.
In addition to the newly released statistics, Raimondo delivered to President Biden the population counts 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.
“Our work doesn’t stop here,” said Jarmin. “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.”
Redistricting data includes the local area counts states need to redraw or “redistrict” legislative boundaries. 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. 16, and the full redistricting data with toolkits for ease of use will be delivered by Sept. 30.
“The fight for fair representation for Rhode Islanders does not end here,” said Gorbea. “The redistricting process begins later this year and will greatly effect the voting rights of our citizens. We must ensure that the redistricting process is fair and transparent, so Rhode Islanders have representation that reflects their community.”