First figures from the census speak to population and representation

From left, U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg answer questions during the 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour in Times Square in New York City.

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STACEY VANEK SMITH: The first figures from the census are out today. This data look at U.S. and state populations. That helps determine House of Representative seats.

As Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports, it's not just about politics.


EVE TROEH: The Census population numbers are strong economic indicators. They're expected to show that U.S. population growth has been slow the past decade. But some places have grown a lot, as people have shifted around. Americans mostly moved out of older, industrial cities, and into growing states -- like Texas, Florida and Arizona.

Robert Inman at the Wharton School of Business says nationally that's good.

ROBERT INMAN: Having people move from one state to another is going to improve economic performance because people will get a better match to their job opportunities.

But it's bad for the places that lose those people. States like Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa have suffered, he says, and will continue to do so.

INMAN: As you lose people, you lose tax base, but there typically will remain fixed costs. You still have the roads to maintain, still have their sewer systems to maintain, still have a police force to maintain.

But one unexpected silver lining -- the recession. The past two years have shown a slow down in people leaving struggling states because they can't afford to move.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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