A Colorado business owner said to a holiday customer visiting from Connecticut, “Hey, I’ve always wondered. Why is it that those little tiny states back there get so many votes in Congress while we out here in the west have such big states and such few votes? It’s just not fair!”
The system is actually remarkably fair and the representation is about to change.
Population Growth and Change
Just before the end of the year, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Census Bureau presented preliminary figures from the 2010 Census. The official population count of the United States as of April 1, 2010 was 308,745,538. The rate of growth, 9.7% since 2000, is the second lowest in the last century.
Southern and western parts of the U.S. experienced the greatest growth. The South, already the most populous region, grew by 14.3%. The West grew by 13.8%. In contrast, the Midwest grew by 3.9% and the Northeast by only 3.2%. Some states in the Northeast actually lost population.
These shifts will determine political redistricting and Congressional representation. States like Arizona, Georgia, Texas and Nevada will gain seats while states like Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan will lose them. This is because the nation’s founders, ever ahead of their time, devised a system by which each citizen (rather than each square mile!) is represented.
Check out the Census 2010 video about apportionment and how it works. And consider this: after the first census in 1790, each Congressional district represented roughly 34,000 people. Today, there are 710,767 people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures per district.
Information by state and by specific diversity dimensions such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, age, language and family structures are expected to be released in February and March.
Census data can help inform specific business strategies for marketing, customer service and talent attraction in coming years – for those who know how to use them. They can also help anticipate political shifts affecting business environments – for those who understand the process. The 2010 census results will also guide the distribution of more than $400 billion in annual federal aid.
And did you know…
The 2010 Census came in on time and $1.9 billion under budget.
Note to Business Owners
As the new Congress begins, we are reminded of what an awesome system of government was conceived and implemented by the founders of this nation. That system of government, however, was premised on the notion of an educated populace. To thrive and survive in the fluctuating economies of our times, knowledge of the system, how it works and how to participate is as important as any other business strategy.
For more on customized workplace education options, check out programs at Jody Alyn Consulting.
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