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Latest Census Awards N.C. Another U.S. House Seat

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RALEIGH — North Carolina unexpectedly gained a congressional seat when U.S. Census figures released Thursday showed the state with 21.4 percent population increase. Shortly before noon, the U.S. Census Bureau released the first results of this year's census.

North Carolina's population jumped 21.4 percent to 8,049,313 in 2000 from 6,628,637 in 1990. The state will have 13 congressmen under the new figures, compared to the 12 it now has.

State lawmakers will have to determine how to carve up the 13 new districts next year. The first election under the new redistricting plan will be held in 2002.

Arizona and Texas, with booming immigrant populations, will gain two seats each. Six states -- California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Montana and Nevada -- will each gain a seat.

New York and Pennsylvania could lose two Representatives. Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin could lose one seat each.

The census also determines how much each state gets in federal and state money for infrastructure needs such as highway construction.

The key, as it was in the presidential election, is just how accurate the census is. The Supreme Court ruled last year that statistically adjusted population counts cannot be used to compensate for over- and undercounts -- only raw data may be used. That concerns civil rights activists, who contend minorities are often undercounted. More detailed statistics will be released in March 2001 giving the racial makeup of the country and figures will continue to come out all through next year.

The census is taken every 10 years. The new figures show that there were 281,421,906 Americans as of April 1, 2000. That is up more than 33 million from the 1990 count.