By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times
DENVER | Americans continued to heed Horace Greeley‘s advice and go West, as states in the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions emerged as the big gainers in the 2010 U.S. Census report.
The first results of the national head count, released Tuesday, confirmed a profound shift in the country’s center of gravity, a shift that will have far-reaching political, social, economic and cultural ramifications.
The five states with the largest per-capita growth since 2000 were Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Texas. Six of the 10 fastest growing states hailed from the West, while the state making the biggest numerical leap was Texas, which gained 4.3 million residents.
For the first time in the nation’s history, the West as a region will hold more seats in the House of Representatives than the Midwest – 102 to 94. Only the South holds more House seats now than do the 13 Western states.
Nevada led all the states in the rate of population growth at a whopping 35.1 percent between 2000 and 2010. Only one Western state – Montana – failed to grow by at least 10 percent in the once-a-decade population tally, and Big Sky country came close, notching a healthy 9.7 percent increase.
Even California, which failed to gain a congressional seat for the first time since it joined the Union in 1850, managed to record a respectable 10 percent jump. Still, the numbers made it clear that Americans heading West are peeling off before they reach California and that the dynamism of the region is moving from its traditional center in the country’s biggest state.
“California has lost its golden shine,” said Douglas Johnson, a fellow at the Rose Institute in Claremont, Calif., and a researcher on redistricting and census analysis. “Some of it is the dot-com collapse, followed by the housing collapse. Some of it is the state’s out-of-control spending. Some of it is that state regulations aren’t meant to encourage job growth.”
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