Florida could win big in 2020 Census

Brownwood Paddock Square fills with dancers as The Hooligans perform.

The once-a-decade census is almost here, and the latest projections predict big gains for Florida — not just in population but in federal funding and political clout. The U.S. Census Bureau this week estimated the number of Floridians at 21.48 million. That puts the Sunshine State in line to add two members to its delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives — and gain two votes in the Electoral College — after the 2020 Census. The census also determines the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending for transportation, social services, education and other programs. Analysts expect about 10 of the 435 House seats to change hands after the census is tabulated. Here’s more you ought to know:

Florida’s population continues to rise quickly

Florida added nearly 640 people a day during the past year, which was second only to Texas. That works out to 233,420 new Floridians in 2019, while Texas gained 367,000 residents. The increase over the previous year gave Florida the ninth-highest growth rate behind Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, South Carolina, Washington and Colorado.

We could pick up 3 seats in Congress

Although this week’s projection would give Florida two more seats in Congress, the state has a shot at picking up a third seat. A political consulting firm that analyzes census and political data estimates Florida is 172,169 people away from a third additional seat. Only California (53) and Texas (36) currently have more seats than Florida and New York (both 27).

Big money at stake for state; jobs available

The Tallahassee-based group Florida TaxWatch has been highlighting the need for residents to participate, warning that “if Florida is under-represented by the count, it could cost the state millions, or even billions, of dollars.” The U.S. Census Bureau is trying to fill thousands of temporary jobs to aid the count, and more information is

available online at 2020census.gov/jobs.

Texas, Florida likely to gain on California

Any new congressional seats will take effect with the 2022 election cycle. Right now, single seats would be picked up by Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon. Florida would get two and Texas three. States projected to lose a seat are Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.