Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Colorado Misses a Seat

Colorado now has 5 million residents, an increase of 728,000 since 2000, but not enough for a new congressional seat.  Arizona – Colorado’s main rival for political power in the Rocky Mountain region – will gain a seat after growing by more than one million the last decade.  Colorado didn’t gain a seat after the 1990 census due to the slow growth in the latter part of the decade.

Economics at the state and regional level, framed by the media’s treatment of it, tend to be the largest influence of population movement. Weather from sunshine to hurricanes also affects people’s locational preferences.

These shifts reflect both attraction to new places and a decision to leave the old. Quality of life as judged by social offerings, aesthetics, diversity, education opportunities, recreation and governance (i.e., the efficiency and burden of government) become a part of the mix.

The states that lost seats, in fact, have been losing seats for decades. Even Louisiana, which lost hundreds of thousands from Katrina and not surprising lost a seat, lost its first seat after the 1990 census.

All the states east of the Mississippi and north of 38º latitude have been losing population since the Great Depression and as the Far West opened up. Florida, after the 1950s, and Texas, after the 1970s, became special attractions that absorbed population from the Northeast, Midwest and now, in the case of Texas, the Far West.

The great economic crisis of 2008 slowed down migration in general and specifically caused many fast growth states, such as Nevada, Arizona and Florida, to stall. Colorado’s failure to gain another congressional seat is largely a product of two slow economic periods. The first early in the decade when technology, telecommunication and tourism had recessions, and the second with the rest of the country in 2008.

No comments: