December 21, 2010 | New Hampshire Union Leader | Original Article

2010 Census: NH grew 6.5 percent

New Hampshire grew the fastest rate of any state in New England over the past decade, according to 2010 Census population estimates released Tuesday.

The state population of 1,316,470 was a 6.5 percent increase over the official head count in 2000.

In the apportionment of representation based on the census, New Hampshire keeps its two congressional seats and Massachusetts loses one of its 10 seats.

The Granite State had the largest net percentage gains in migration in the region, but "the recession has had a sobering effect on migration," said Kenneth Johnson, professor of sociology and senior demographer of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

Johnson said the region's population gain was due to an excess of births over deaths and that many more people left New England than came to it during the decade. Since 2000, New Hampshire had 45,000 more births than deaths, according to Johnson's study of recent census estimates.

More census data will be released into 2011 to develop a better picture of New Hampshire demographics. At one point after the 2000 census, surveys indicated that more than half of the state's residents were not born in New Hampshire.

Trends indicate the state has for years lost college-educated residents and gained empty-nesters, said David J. Preece, executive director of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission.

Ken Gallager, principal planner at the state Office of Energy and Planning in Concord, is looking forward to seeing migration trends reflected in the 2010 Census. The data released Tuesday is close to where the state expected to be. Some growth was stalled over the past decade because of the economic collapse, he said.

New Hampshire is still growing, but Gallager does not think it will return to the pace of the 80s and 90s. The 1980 Census was a 25 percent rate of growth and the 1990 Census was a 21 percent rate of growth over the preceding decade.

"The good news is there's no change to our congressional representation," Gallager said.

The U.S. Constitution calls for a census of the country's population every 10 years to apportion the 435 U.S. House seats among the states. The official U.S. population in 2010 is 308,745,538, a 9.7 percent increase over 2000.

While New Hampshire retains its two congressional seats in the apportionment, the state Legislature will next year begin to adjust state legislative districts for 2012 based on the 2010 count. The redistricting is in keeping with the constitutional right of "one person, one vote."

It is particularly challenging with the New Hampshire House of Representatives, which has 400 seats. The process was nearly a constitutional train wreck in 2002 when the governor vetoed the legislative redistricting map drawn for the House and the Legislature recessed without enacting a new map. The New Hampshire Supreme Court, for the first time in state history, devised a reapportionment plan.

In its opinion back in 2002, the court quoted Daniel Webster, who once said, "The right to choose a representative is every man's portion of sovereign power."