Monday, December 27, 2010

New York to Lose Two House Seats: Slow Growth Rates Blamed

By Jason Barczy

The state of New York, and possibly the city, will lose some of its political muscle as the 2010 census count calls for New York to lose two seats in the House of Representatives.

U.S. Census Bureau director Robert Groves released the initial numbers from the 2010 census Tuesday, reporting the United States has grown 9.7 percent in the last 10 years to a population of 308,745,538.

New York grew by just 2.1 percent to a population of 19,378,102, putting it among the lowest five growth rates in the country and dropping its number of House seats from 29 to 27, tying it with Florida for the first time ever. The loss of House seats for New York leave the state with the smallest Congressional delegation it has had in 200 years.

“It’s not good when your state delegation gets smaller,” said Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens). “But I’m confident our city delegation won’t see any reduction. Since Queens is one of the fastest growing counties in the state it seems there will be the same number of representatives for the county.”

Weiner said that his offices are seeing a surge in growth for New York City and Queens has grown by five percent.

“I think Queens will be held harmless in the redistricting process,” Weiner said. “It seems there’s more than enough people to have the same number of congressmen and thankfully there’s a lot of people in New York City.”

New York has been losing seats in the House since 1950 when it had control of 45 seats. The state also lost two seats in 2000.

“By taking out two additional voices from the city and voices from the Greater New York area there has been a diminished representation in our government,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach). “The districts are going to have to cover more people and that is a problem.”

The elimination of which congressional districts is yet to be determined by the state legislature with most critics saying one will come from the western half of the state and one possibly coming out of New York City.

Beginning in February, the Census Bureau will release population and race breakdowns down to the neighborhood level for states to redraw congressional boundaries.

Addabbo credits the high cost of living in New York as the reason there has been a slow population growth.

“There are going to be less people able to adapt to the high cost of living,” Addabbo said. “There’s a segment of the population that needs a reduction in property taxes and it’s mainly our seniors and veterans but we should reduce property taxes for everyone.”

The entire Northeast saw growth of just 3.8 percent, the lowest in the country compared to double-digit increases in the South and West. Texas was the big winner, pick- ing up four seats in the House. Florida picked up two.

Ohio joined New York losing two seats while New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania each lost one. Michigan was the only state to see a net loss in population.

New York still remains among the top five most populous states in the country, ranking third behind California and Texas respectively. Overall, the country saw its lowest population increase since 1940, just after the Great Depression.

On December 14 results from the American Community Survey (ACS), which is vastly different from the Census survey, were released. The results provided a look at how New York’s racial makeup, along with income, education and housing has changed between 2005 and 2009.

“We’ve always been a county of immigrants and Queens County is the most diverse county in the state and probably the entire country,” Weiner said. “Its diversity is its strength and the economic engine that drives the county.”

According to the ACS, 47 percent of the population in Queens County is foreign-born—the second highest for a county in the country, next to Miami-Dade County. In Ozone Park, the Hispanic population is up and in South Ozone Park the African- American population has dropped by half; Caucasians are moving out of Rego Park and Asians are making their way into Forest Hills and Woodhaven. Maspeth and Middle Village’s population is primarily non-Hispanic whites. But, the survey notes that Hispanic occupancy is on the rise.

Queens also shares the longest commute for workers in the country, along with Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island, at an average of 42.5 minutes.

“I think the borough is ever-changing,” Addabbo said. “We do live in the most diverse borough, in not only the country but in the world, and will have that kind of diversity for many years to come.”

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