By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama will maintain seven congressional seats under new Census numbers released Monday instead of losing a seat as state officials had feared.
The outcome is a relief to officials worried that Alabama’s population growth would not be enough to maintain its seats in the U.S. House. A drop to six seats would have decreased Alabama’s influence in Washington and kicked off a particularly difficult redistricting process.
The census figures show that Alabama’s population grew by about 5% since 2010 to a little over 5 million residents in 2020. Alabama’s population growth trailed the U.S. as a whole, which grew 7.4%.
The state has a resident population of 5,024,279, up from 4,779,736 in 2010. That is an increase of 5.1%. Alabama slipped from the 23rd most populous state, to the 24th.
The Alabama population number used for reapportionment, which includes federal employees living overseas, is 5,030,053.
“This data reveals what we’ve known all along – Alabama is a great state to call home, and many are choosing to do so. I am extremely pleased that we will keep all seven of our current seats in the U.S. House to provide valued and needed voices to advocate for our state and our people for the next 10 years,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.
Ivey and other Alabama officials had made a push for state residents to participate in the 2020 census, saying an accurate count was crucial to keeping the state’s representation in Congress and the billions of dollars in federal funding handed out on a per capita basis.
Ivey said she offers a “heartfelt thanks to everyone who played a part” in urging census participation.
“This was by far the most time and resources that Alabama state government has ever given toward a census count, and I am happy that our efforts and hard work have paid off,” Kenneth Boswell, the chairman of the Alabama Counts! Committee to boost census participation, said in a statement.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said earlier this month that it would have been a “big blow” to the state to lose a congressional seat in Alabama.
The state is currently represented in Congress by one Democrat — U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell — and six Republicans.
More detailed figures will be released later this year showing population numbers by race, gender and geographic levels as small as neighborhoods. This redistricting data will be used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts.