US Census

Illinois to Lose 1 Congressional Seat, Census Bureau Says, Releasing State Population Data

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Illinois will lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to drop to 17, the Census Bureau said Monday, releasing its state population counts and more data from the 2020 Census.

Illinois is one of seven states nationwide to each lose one seat in the House. The others include: California, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, according to the Census Bureau.

Six states will gain those seven seats: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon each gain one, while Texas will gain two. The number of seats in the remaining 37 states will not change, officials said.

Delayed for several months in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau released the first results of the 2020 Census, known as the "apportionment population counts" at a virtual news conference Monday afternoon.

Those population counts determine each state's representation in the U.S. House as well as its electoral votes, and inform states as they redraw districts in the legislative maps.

Illinois' number of seats in the House peaked at 27 from 1910 to 1930, according to the Census Bureau. Since then, the state's population has either grown more slowly in comparison to other states, with just 18 congressional districts after the 2010 Census, or fallen in recent years.

The Center for Illinois Politics noted in March 2020 that 2013 was the last year Illinois saw an increase in population, reaching nearly 12.9 million.

The state's population has fallen since then to around 12.65 million, the data shows, leaving Illinois to again lose representation in the House proportionally with its population loss, as demographic trends show faster growth in areas in the South and the West.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday attributed Illinois' population loss in part to college students leaving.

"Unfortunately, this has been happening for more than a decade, we've had out-migration from the state. When I took office, this unfortunately had continued," Pritzker said when asked about the Census data at an unrelated news conference.

"And I looked very closely at the numbers of people, who they are, where they come from, why they're leaving and what you see when you look at the out-migration is actually the largest portion of the population that was moving out were young people who were choosing to go to college out of state because tey couldn't afford to go to college in Illinois," he continued, highlighting things like MAP grants and other initiatives to make college more affordable for Illinois residents.

"We might lose one or two seats but that's something that unfortunately, before I became governor was really, you know, a bit set in at least clay if not stone, and now we're working very hard to make sure that we're going the right direction," Pritzker added.

The 435 seats in the U.S. House are divided among the states every 10 years after the Census, based on population. Once the Census data is released, each state can then begin the process of redrawing the maps of its congressional and legislative districts based on the new information, guided by each individual state's laws governing redistricting.

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