Census 2020 ended on Oct. 15, 2020, but the impacts on Huntsville are yet to be determined. Below is a snapshot of the latest facts and figures and how the City might be affected.
HOW WE COMPARED
Alabama and 48 other states had a 99% household response rate. Alabama’s self-response percentage of 63.5% was an improvement over the 62.5% self-response in 2010. According to Alabama Counts, 47 counties exceeded their 2010 response rate. Madison County had the second-highest self-response rate in the state at 76%, just slightly less than Shelby County’s rate of 77.8%.
THE CURRENT PICTURE
According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Huntsville is now the second-most populous city in Alabama behind Birmingham, and could surpass Birmingham within three years. Huntsville grew by more than 20,000 people between 2010 and 2019, and the City of Huntsville Planning Department estimates the population of Huntsville on Census Day (April 1, 2020) was approximately 202,000.
WHY NUMBERS MATTER
Population, growth and where those people live will decide the future direction of Huntsville and the state. Uneven concentrations of Alabamians result in congressional and state legislative lines being redrawn to ensure fair representation. The population data processed by the Census Bureau is the basis of an apportionment report used to determine representation. It also releases a second set of data used by states and local governments to determine if district lines need to be withdrawn.
The Census Bureau announced in January it won’t release data used for the congressional apportionment report until April 30, 2021. The Bureau also said data used for state and local redistricting purposes won’t be ready until after July 31, 2021.
Alabama has seven congressional seats, but some apportionment forecasts predict that, based on Census estimates, a seat could be lost. One less representative in Congress means one less voice representing Alabama’s interests in Washington.
Redistricting differs from apportionment because it involves revising the geographic boundaries of areas from which people elect not only congressional leaders, but also state representatives, City Council members and even school board members. So, while apportionment determines the number of congressional representatives, redistricting determines any necessary changes in district maps. The responsibility for redrawing congressional and state lines falls to the Alabama Legislature.
Closer to home, changes to Huntsville’s population may require a re-examination of its Council and school board districts to ensure proper representation. If changes are needed, Mayor Tommy Battle will present a plan with input from the City’s legal and planning departments. The City Council will have to approve redistricting changes.
The latest Census figures, apportionment and redistricting data will be posted here and updated as information is available.
Please note: As of January 28, 2021, the map shows 2020 Census count numbers.