The U.S. Census Bureau released the first data from the 2020 Census last month. This information, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, includes state totals for apportioning the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and is typically delivered to the President by December 31 of the Census year.

Arkansas’s resident population on April 1, 2020 was 3,011,524, an increase of 3.3%, (see Figure 1), or 95,606 persons, since 2010. Overall, the United States experienced an increase of 7.4% over the last decade, reaching a total resident population of 331,449,281. Utah’s growth rate of 18.4% made it the nation’s fastest-growing state, while three states, West Virginia (-3.2%), Mississippi (-0.2%), and Illinois (-0.1%), lost population. Arkansas ranked 35th in percent change among the states.

Figure 1

Arkansas’s total resident population, 32nd among the states in 2010, dropped to 33rd in 2020. Figure 2 shows California (39,538,223) and Texas (29,145,505) remain the country’s two most populous states, while Wyoming (576,851) and Vermont (643,077) have the smallest number of residents.

Figure 2

Figure 3 shows that from 1910 to 1940, Arkansas experienced declining growth, culminating in a substantive population loss from 1940 to 1960. The state achieved its most significant percentage growth (18.9%) from 1970 to 1980, saw a drop in growth to 2.8% from 1980 to 1990, followed by an increase in growth from 1990 to 2000 to 13.7%. The 3.3% increase in 2020 caps two decades of slowing growth rates that began in 2000.

Figure 3

Based on the 2020 apportionment counts, Arkansas will maintain the four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives it has held since 1960. In 1940, the state had seven Congressional seats but dropped to four after losing population two decades in a row. Figure 4 shows that in the 2020 Census seven states lost one seat (California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia). Five states gained one seat (Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Montana, Oregon), and Texas gained two.

Figure 4

Although apportionment counts determine the number of congressional seats each state receives, the 2020 Census redistricting numbers used for redrawing congressional districts are the most eagerly awaited and should be released in a user-friendly tabular format by September 30. These counts will also provide communities with the composition of their populations by race, ethnicity, and age. This data will be available earlier, in mid-to-late August, in a legacy format summary data file that requires user processing.

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