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Virginia's population grows by 630,000; state won't lose or gain any U.S. House seats

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Virginia's population grew by 630,000 people in the last 10 years to 8.6 million, but that change will not result in Virginia losing or gaining any seats in the House of Representatives. 

That's according to new data the U.S. Census Bureau released Monday - the first sliver of information from the 2020 U.S. population count. 

Virginia will hold onto its 11 seats in the House of Representatives, and therefore its 13 electoral college votes.

The work of the census has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying redistricting work in Virginia and forcing candidates for the House of Delegates to run in old districts this fall rather than in new ones.

Between the 2010 census and the new census, which is as of April 2020, Virginia's population grew by 7.9%, slightly higher than the national growth rate of 7.4%. Virginia remains the 12th most populous state.

The U.S. population topped 331.5 million as of April 1, 2020, marking the second-slowest rate of growth in the nation’s history. Only the 1930s, at 7.3%, had a slower rate of growth.

"That's much slower growth than the two decades prior for Virginia. It's lower population growth and also a lower rate of growth," said Qian Cai, the director of the Demographics Research Group at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. 

"Our population is having fewer babies and seeing more deaths as our population is aging. Immigration was slower than in the decade prior," she added.

Cai said there were generally few surprises for Virginia in Monday's release by the census, which she said is good news for her team of demographers. Their estimate for Virginia's population in 2020, which was hatched in 2018, was just 479 people off from the official census count. 

"The biggest surprise was how close our estimates were to the actual census numbers. That's 500 people less than we projected. That is impressively close," Cai said. 

Virginia was among 37 states that saw no change in their congressional representation, which the bureau said is "the smallest number of seats shifting among the states" since the current reapportionment method was rolled out in 1941. 

Still, according to an agency analysis, Virginia among the 10 runner-up states to almost gain a seat. Virginia ranked seventh in that list. 

All told, seven U.S. House seats will shift among 13 states. Texas will gain two seats, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one seat. 

Those gains illustrated a broader trend of population growth in the South that outpaced growth in other regions. The population in southern states grew by 10.2 percent in the last decade, compared to the West at 9.2%, the Northeast at 4.1% and the Midwest at 3.1%. 

The states that will lose a seat in the House are California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 

The Census did not yet release any local or demographic data, which bureau officials said would come at a later date. The most detailed data for Virginia is expected to become public in August.

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