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Slow population growth costs Ohio a House seat, census shows

Ohio will lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives following data being released from the U.S. Census conducted in 2020.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio has lost one seat in Congress as a result of new census figures released Monday, marking the sixth-straight decade of congressional declines for the state.

Prompted by sluggish population growth over the past decade, the loss of a U.S. House seat comes as the state embarks on a new system of drawing its congressional maps, which are considered among the most gerrymandered in the nation.

The latest census adjustment will take the state’s representation in the U.S. House to 15 representatives, down from the current 16. Ohio has lost a total of nine seats since 1960. Seats in the House are apportioned based on a formula tied to each state’s population as determined by the census’ once-per-decade head count.

RELATED: Census Bureau reveals first data from 2020 headcount

Slow levels of job creation, failure to attract enough immigrants and a dearth of top-tier public research universities to attract and retain young talent are among reasons Ohio is not growing faster, said Ned Hill, a professor of economic development at Ohio State University’s Glenn College of Public Affairs.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has advanced several initiatives aimed at building Ohio’s pipeline of workers in burgeoning technology fields, including the creation of innovation zones in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati intended to make Ohio a medical epicenter, said spokesperson Dan Tierney.

The redrawing of political maps that is set to begin later this year could give Democrats an opportunity to reclaim control of several of the 15 remaining seats. Under the current Republican-drawn map, they control only four of 16 seats.

Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, said the new rules Ohio voters have approved will require districts to be more compact — by keeping counties and municipalities whole, among other things — and will make districts more competitive.

RELATED: Census data delay scrambles plans for state redistricting

“One of the things we know we won’t have is ‘the snake on the lake,’” she said, referring to Ohio’s 9th District, which strings along Lake Erie to merge the distant cities of Toledo and Cleveland, both heavily Democratic. That’s a gerrymandering tactic that merges areas where one party dominates, no matter how distant they might be, into the same district as a way to dilute their voters’ political power when electing members of Congress or the state legislature.

Eliminating that level of manipulation will mean both Republican and Democratic incumbents could see tougher contests next fall, Turcer said.

Already, some moves suggest that Ohio congressional representatives can see what’s coming.

RELATED: 144 US cities could lose status as metro areas

You can watch the full briefing conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in the player below: 

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