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Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 4:34am

Ga. Population Spikes 18.3%

Georgia's population grew by 18.3% in the last decade, to a total of 9,687,653 as of April 1, 2010. In 2000, Georgia's popluation stood at a total of about 8.2 million. With the increase, Georgia gains one seat in Congress, to a new total of 14.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its initial population estimates for Georgia and the rest of the United States Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. The new U.S. population stands at 308,745,538. That represents 9.7% growth since 2000. The South had the biggest population increase, injecting more than 14 million people. The West was second, with more than 8.7 million residents added.

Georgia's 18.3% growth leads the Southeast region, followed by Florida (17.6%), South Carolina (15.3%), Tennessee (11.5%), and Alabama (7.5%).

University of Georgia professor Doug Bachtel says the numbers for Georgia don’t surprise him, given the state’s diverse economy:

“We’ve got private sector jobs and government jobs, service jobs…retail jobs. So as a result, while things have slowed down in other parts of the country, Georgia’s kept on honkin’ on.”

The state Census numbers determine apportionment, the process of dividing the seats in the House of Representatives among the 50 states based on the population figures collected during the decennial census. Experts are predicting House gains in the South and West and losses in the Midwest and Northeast.

Georgia was one of eight states to gain representation in Congress with its additional 14th seat. State political observers expect that seat will come from the northern half of tGeorgia—and likely be Republican.

The Census counts every U.S. resident and is mandated by the Constitution. This year's tally represented the most massive participation movement in the nation's history. More detailed data by county and city will be released by Census officials in coming weeks.

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