This week, the United States Census Bureau released its official count of the nation's population. It said the population, as of April first, was three hundred eight million, seven hundred forty-five thousand, five hundred thirty-eight.
The population increased nine point seven percent in ten years. This was the nation's lowest growth rate since the nineteen thirties. Experts say this was a result of falling birth rates among some groups and fewer immigrants because of the recession.
Two states had the largest population increases. Texas gained more than four million people -- more than any other state. Nevada was the fastest growing state. Its population increased thirty-five percent from the last census in two thousand.
Across the country, the largest increases were in southern and western states. The population continues to move from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West. This has been happening for the past forty years.
The United States Constitution calls for a census of the nation's population every ten years. This must be done to equally divide the four hundred thirty-five voting districts in the House of Representatives among the states. Each House member represents, on average, about seven hundred thousand people. The states with the biggest populations have more congressional seats than less populated states. The most populated state, California, has fifty-three House seats. The least populous, Wyoming, has only one seat.
Eighteen states will gain or lose seats in the House because of the census results. Texas will gain four seats, more than any other state. Florida will gain two seats. Six states in the South and West will each gain one seat. Ohio and New York will lose two House seats each.
Eight states, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest, will lose one seat each.
Some experts say the census report was possible good news for the Republican Party. Most of the states that will gain seats usually support Republicans. Many of the states losing seats usually vote for Democrats. Amy Walter is political director for ABC News.
AMY WALTER: "There are some experts who are looking at this data and saying that based on what they see now, Republicans could add ten more seats to their total."
State legislatures and governors are responsible for setting the borders of congressional districts. Republican gains in the elections last month will strengthen their power in the redistricting process that is to begin next year.
The change in House seats might also affect the voting for president. Under the Constitution, the number of electoral votes each state has is based on its total number of House and Senate seats. Adding some House seats to the South and West might help the Republican candidate for president in twenty-twelve.
The census report shows that Hispanics are a major reason for population growth in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida. Since Hispanics usually vote Democratic, experts say this may help Democrats in the long-term.