Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Wisconsin gains more people in 2023, and now might keep all its House seats in the 2030s

Yesterday, the US Census Bureau released their new updates on US and state population for 2023. Not surprisingly, the trend of Americans moving to the South and Mountain West continued, often from California, the Northeast, and the Midwest. But the changes were not as severe as what we saw in 2022.

You can see that Wisconsin is in the green for both years, and the Census Bureau says Wisconsin gained more than 20,400 people in 2023 (0.3%). This means Wisconsin has now regained all of the population it lost in the pandemic-wracked time between April 2020 (when the Census was estimated) and mid-2021, and then some.

In 2023, Wisconsin gained more people from migration within the States than any other state in the Midwest, getting more than 5,600 more people than we lost.

But Wisconsin didn’t gain as much from the “natural” birth vs death factor as 4 other Midwest states did in 2023 (though it was still positive, unlike Michigan and Ohio), nor did we gain as much from immigration (only Iowa added less). So our total population gain ended up smack dab in the middle for our part of the country. And unlike other years in the 2020s, only Illinois has fewer people this year.

But while we were middle of the pack for the Midwest and only the 20th highest for total population increase in America, Wisconsin’s 2023 gain of 20,412 people could become very significant for the state and its ability to maintain the same level of representation in Washington DC, if it were to continue. Here’s why I say that.

Each year, the American Redistricting Project (among other groups) figures out how many members each state should have in 2030, based on population changes. In December 2022, their map looked like this.

And now in the updated map using 2023's numbers, look who is out of the red!

Notice that Wisconsin’s 8th House district is now listed as one of the “last 3” that would be assigned, as opposed to the being in the last 3 "out" in 2022. This means we are close to the borderline eiher way, and will likely need to grow our population more over the next 7 years to keep that 8th seat. Seems like all the more reason to have policies that encourage a high quality of life, good wages and a strong education system to encourage families to stay here, and to encourage others to move here.

Also seems like we shouldn't be driving people away with 19th and 20th Century social policies and anti-inclusive BS, unlike what our gerrymandered GOP Legislature keeps pushing to do. So ironically, if we get new maps for the rest of the 2020s, it might also bring a better chance of keeping Wisconsin at 8 House members and 10 electoral votes for the 2030s. Just saying.

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