The census bureau has put out its numbers for Missouri. They mean some substantial changes for many Missourians in who represents them in Congress.
Our population grew by seven percent statewide in the last decade. We’re 11-thousand 74 people short of having six million Missourians. Eighty-three percent of us are white. Twelve percent are black and 3.5% are Hispanic. The Hispanic population of Missouri has grown by 79% in the last decade and now totals 212,470 according to the 2010 census.
Members of the House and Senate congressional redistricting committees have a little more than two months to decide what our new congressional districts will look like and get their proposals approved. They’ll have to draw eight, not nine, districts that are reasonable, contiguous, and as close to a target population of 748,615 as possible. That’s almost 130,000 more than the target figure established after the 2000 census, an increase partly attributable to Missouri’s 7% growth but mostly the result of the loss of one of our seats in the U.S. House.
The biggest growth area is the 7th district of southwest Missouri, which grew by 16 percent. By contrast, the first district of William Lacey Clay in St. Louis, lost 5.6 percent of its population Russ Carnahan’s third district, just to the south grew by only about 6-tenths of a percent. Another slow-growing district is Jo Ann Emerson’s, just south of Carnahan’s.
The two congressional districts that cover north Missouri might have to reach farther south to pick up the population they need. Six of Missouri’s nine northernmost counties lost population in the last ten years and the total population of all nine counties is less than 50,000. Those two districts grew overall, however. The ninth district saw significant population growth in its southern counties as the St. Louis urban sprawl continued. And the sixth district of northwest Missouri profited by growth in the north Kansas City and St. Joseph areas.
Another slow-growing district is Emanuel Cleaver’s fifth district in Kansas City that likely will have to reach further into Jackson or surrounding counties to pick up numbers.
The question for senate redistricting chairman Scott Rupp becomes—where do the committes start redrawing the lines–in southwest Missouri, the St. Louis area, or somewhere else?
Rupp’s committee holds its first public hearing on congressional redistricting today in Springfield. He says the committee’s job is to do a lot of listening before it starts drawing.