US Population Soars to 281.4 Million in 2000

WASHINGTON (Reuters)–The Census Bureau announced the US population soared to 281.4 million in 2000–a 13.2 percent jump since the last count 10 years ago–with the biggest growth in states in the West and South.

The bureau also unveiled state-by-state population totals and released details of the apportionment to the 50 states of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives–as required by the Constitution. Eight of the 50 states gained seats–10 lost seats and 32 remained unchanged.

Arizona–Florida–Georgia and Texas each got two more seats and New York and Pennsylvania each lost two. Other losers were Connecticut–Illinois–Indiana–Michigan–Mississippi–Ohio–Oklahoma and Wisconsin–which ceded one each–while California–Colorado–Nevada and North Carolina each gained one.

Announcing the first wave of Census 2000 results–Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta said: "Today we release the first numbers from the most complex census ever taken. America’s population is the largest ever."

Undercounted Minorities

Civil rights groups have anxiously awaited the results–arguing that the census in previous years undercounted minority groups who they say are underrepresented in government.

The Census Bureau estimated after the 1990 census that it had missed about 4 million people–mostly minorities and the poor–and double-counted 4 million others.

Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Robert Shapiro said there was evidence from labor market surveys of an undercount this time and he hoped the Bush administration would allow the bureau to submit adjusted figures to include undercounts.

Shapiro said the government was "doing all we can to ensure that no one is missed.” He said an accurate count was "one of the real civil rights issues of our time.”

Any adjusted figures cannot be applied to the apportionment of seats among the states. The Supreme Court has ruled only the raw data–such as that released on Thursday–can be used for that purpose.

However–the court said it was up to individual states to decide which numbers they would use when redrawing congressional and state legislative lines next year.

Everett Ehrlich–a Democratic member of the Census Monitoring Board appointed by the president to observe the census–commended the bureau for its job but said it was important to use adjusted figures.

"We have to step up to the constitutional responsibility to count all Americans to make sure that no one is left out of this family photo,” he added.


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