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State's population boomed in last decade

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The 2010 Census revealed that Georgia has moved a notch up the ladder of most populous states, according to a spokesperson with the U.S. Census Bureau's Atlanta Regional Office.

The U.S. Census Bureau released the national, and state-level figures from this year's national census count, on Tuesday. The count showed that there are currently 308.7 million people living in the United States, which is up by 9.7 percent from 2000.

The data also showed that Georgia's population has grown 18.3 percent over the last decade, increasing to 9.7 million people. It was enough for the state's delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives to gain an additional seat, bringing the state's total to 14 representatives.

Georgia had the seventh-largest percentage of growth among all states and territories, said Gerson Vasquez, a spokesperson for the census bureau's Atlanta Regional Office's Partnership and Data Services Program.

"From a quick look at the data, I have found that Georgia had so much growth, that it moved up to become the ninth-most populated state in the U.S., which is up from tenth in 2000," Vasquez said. "The state's current population, according to the 2010 Census count, is 9,687,653. As a result, we gained a seat in Congress."

County-and city-level census figures will not be available until sometime in the spring, when the census bureau distributes the information to states, to assist state leaders in the reapportionment process, Vasquez said. States have to use the census data to draw population-based boundary lines for their U.S. Congressional seats, as well as State House of Representatives and State Senate seats.

Each member of the U.S. Congress represents approximately 714,000 people, according to U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves, in a written statement from the bureau.

Vasquez said the census bureau, under federal law, has until April 1, 2011 to release local-level census figures to the states. "We'll be releasing that information to the states, starting as early as February," he said.

While official local census figures for Clayton and Henry counties were not available this week, recent population estimates from the census bureau show two different trends took place in the two counties, from 2008, to 2009. Vasquez cautioned that, unlike the 2010 census count, the estimates are only rough figures, and do not represent official counts.

Vasquez said Clayton County's 2009 population estimate was 275,772 residents, as of July 1, 2009, which is down 237 people from the county's population estimate for July 1, 2008. During the year between those two estimates, Clayton County Public Schools lost -- and eventually regained (on a probationary basis) -- its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation. A development which is believed by many to have affected the county's growth.

Vasquez said Henry County's 2009 population estimate was 195,370 people on July 1, 2009, which is an increase of 4,841 people from the county's population estimate for July 1, 2008.

The Associated Press, on Tuesday, reported that Gov.-elect Nathan Deal issued a written statement, in which he said he will call a special session of the Georgia General Assembly next summer, to redraw the districts for the U.S. Congressional seats, as well as seats in the Georgia General Assembly.

The AP also reported that Deal welcomed the state's growth, and the additional seat in Congress that it brings. "As our state continues to grow, so does our influence and stature on the national stage," said Deal, in a written statement.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.