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Census: Ohio still one of slowest-growing states

AKRON, Dec. 24, 2009 (AP): Ohio is barely growing and still in danger of losing two congressional seats next year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau numbers that also show immigrants are helping the state avoid even slower growth.

The state added only 14,573 residents last year, or a little more than one-tenth of a percent.

Since the 2000 Census, Ohio gained only 189,505 residents. During the same time only five other states grew more slowly than Ohio, which has about 11.5 million residents.

The state had about 40,000 more births than deaths over the past year, but that was offset by 36,000 people who left the state for elsewhere, according to the Census. The only bright note was about 12,000 new residents from outside the U.S.

Gov. Ted Strickland has warned that slow growth leaves Ohio in danger of losing two seats in the House of Representatives when the official 2010 Census counts are released next December. The 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are divided by population.

Losing two seats would hurt Ohio politically since the state would have less clout in Congress and fewer electoral votes in presidential elections, said University of Akron political scientist John Green.

No Republican has been elected to the White House without winning Ohio in more than 100 years, and only two Democrats have done so.

The low population growth will hurt Ohio economically as well, said Mark Salling, director of the Northern Ohio Data and Information Service at Cleveland State University.

``It means fewer businesses in the state, because people are leaving,'' Salling said. ``Tax revenues will decline because we're not really growing.''

Texas stands to gain three states in Congress next year, most of any state. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington would all pick up single seats.

Ohio had 24 U.S. representatives during the 1960s, slipped to 23 during the 1970s, 21 during the 1980s and 19 during the 1990s.

Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com






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