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California To Lose Congressional Seat For First Time

Jonathan Ernst

California is losing a congressional seat for the first time in its history following the 2020 census.

California will lose a seat in the House of Representatives for the first time in its history, according to data released Monday from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The numbers, the first batch from the 2020 census, show 39.5 million people living in California. But a slowing rate of growth in recent years means the state will drop to 52 members of the U.S House of Representatives after redistricting is completed, a loss of one seat.

Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Verginia also lost a seat. Texas gained two seats, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon gained one seat.

The loss of the congressional seat will also mean that California's number of votes in the electoral college will drop from 55 to 54 in the 2024 presidential election.

California's official population count for the 2020 census is 39,538,223, an increase of 6% since 2010. That's the lowest 10-year growth rate in the state’s history.

Last year the state grew only 0.05%, the lowest yearly total since 1900, according to the state Department of Finance. While the Census Bureau won't release more detailed demographic data until September, the state data shows that California is losing more residents to other states than it brings in, though increases from births and international migration have kept the state from losing population.

The numbers highlight a growing conversation about affordability and opportunity in California. A Public Policy Institute of California poll from March found that 43% of Californians say housing costs are making them seriously considering moving, with a third saying they are looking at moving out of state.

Still, the trend in losing residents to other states isn't new. California hasn't attracted more movers from out of state since 2000, and a California Policy Lab study found that most residents choose to move within the state.

Monday's release was delayed from December because of the pandemic. States will get more detailed redistricting data in September, six months later than they did after the 2010 census.

Those delays will be major problems for the state redistricting committee. Typically the committee must deliver new congressional maps by Aug. 15, but the state Supreme Court has provided an extension. The commission now has until Jan. 1 to deliver draft maps and Feb. 14 for final maps.

Chris Hagan