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SC gained population but won't add congressional seats after new 10-year census

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The number of South Carolina residents climbed to more than 5.1 million over the past 10 years, but the state will not add any new congressional districts following the 2020 census count. File/Matt Rourke/AP

COLUMBIA — The number of South Carolina residents climbed to more than 5.1 million over the past 10 years, but the state will not add any new congressional districts following the 2020 census count.

The boost of almost half a million people, announced April 26 by the U.S. Census Bureau, means South Carolina leapfrogged Alabama to become the 23rd  most-populous state in the country.

The census results showed South Carolina's population rose from 4,625,364 in 2010 to 5,118,425 in 2020 — an increase of 10.7 percent over the course of the decade.

Those figures mean South Carolina was the 10th fastest-growing state by percentage change and the 14th fastest-growing by raw numbers.

Unlike in 2010, when South Carolina added a seventh congressional district, the 2020 population gain was not enough for the state to pick up an additional seat in Congress.

Overall, six states gained at least one congressional seat, while seven states lost one. The states with new congressional seats are Texas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon. The states losing a seat are California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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The results also mean South Carolina will maintain nine electoral college votes for presidential elections, which is calculated by adding the number of U.S. House districts to the state's two U.S. Senate seats.

The new data on state populations is just the first set of results to be released this year by the Census Bureau. The federal agency is expected to release more precise numbers about where population is rising and shrinking within the states later this year. That data will be used for the redistricting process when lawmakers will redraw the boundaries of congressional, statehouse and municipal districts.

The redistricting process is not expected to begin until the fall, when state lawmakers are planning to reconvene in a special legislative session to handle it.

The state population data was initially scheduled to be released at the end of 2020 but was delayed due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. Those delays have jeopardized off-year local elections set for 2021.

In Charleston, for example, elected leaders will likely need to decide whether to use the old maps for the 2021 elections, which will not account for the huge population shifts that have occurred within the city over the past decade, or whether to delay the elections and give themselves more time to redraw the map.

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

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