(Orange, Texas)

Local News

February 17, 2011

U.S. Census numbers show Orange County down by 2,000 people

ORANGE — Jefferson County’s population showed slight gains while Orange County lost of people, according to U.S. Census figures released Thursday.

Statewide, Texas’ population is growing and the increase is most apparent among Hispanics which now accounts for 38 percent of the total population.

The census figures pertaining to Texas were released Thursday. More specific data for counties and cities down to the block is expected to be made available to the public Friday morning.

Preliminary results indicate Jefferson County’s population grew by about 200 while Orange County lost about 2,000 people because of Hurricanes Rita and Ike, Joe Deshotel, District 22 state representative, said Thursday in a telephone conversation.

Jefferson County’s population in 2000 was 252,051, according to 2000 Census results. Orange County’s population was 85,000.

Overall the state showed strong gains in population.

Non-Hispanic whites dropped to 45.3 percent and blacks make up 11.5 percent of Texas’ population, the Associated Press reported Thursday.  

The detailed Census data will be used to redraw Congressional lines, and to figure federal funding which is distributed on a population basis.

Based on new census numbers, Texas is getting four new Congressional seats, more than any state in the nation. Because the growth is largely due to an increase in Hispanic population, Hispanic leaders say more Latino-dominated seats should redrawn as part of the redistricting process.

Deshotel said though he expects more Hispanic Congressman as a result, he is not sure the district lines will be drawn to reflect the growing Hispanic population.

“I expect there will be some lawsuits coming out of this,” Deshotel said. “The Mexican-American Legislature caucus will be of the opinion that the four new Congressional seats should be in Hispanic impact districts because that is where the growth change is, but I doubt that is what the Republicans have in mind. There will be litigation eventually.”

Republican House Speaker Joe Straus said he looked forward to passing “fair and legal maps that represent the make-up of Texas,” the AP reported.

It was anticipated that Jefferson County would lose population, not gain, Jeff Branick, Jefferson County Judge, said Thursday.

“I am glad the pundits forecasting we were going to lose population were proven wrong, but I’m still somewhat skeptical that we have a complete count. I’m still concerned we were undercounted,” Branick said.

If the county had lost people as was anticipated, Branick said there were worries it would have negatively impacted Congressional district lines.

Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said county officials had anticipated a declining population.

“We’ve had two major storms, so I figured we were going to lose some population, but I didn’t know how much,” Thibodeaux said.

Orange County officials are awaiting final numbers and the impact the decline will have on the county.

In addition to the storms, Thibodeaux said hard economic times have contributed to the loss of population.

“People are moving out trying to find work. There are just a lot of issues, but the storms certainly did not help,” Thibodeaux said.

Statewide, Asians and other racial groups went up the most on a percentage basis, increasing by 58 percent. The black population went up by over 20 percent and Hispanics saw their strength rise by more than 42 percent, the AP reported.

In Harris County, new Census data indicates there are now 1.7 million Hispanics, accounting for 41 percent of the population. Non-Hispanic whites make up only a third of the county, while blacks account for 18.4 percent.

Projections show Hispanics will be the majority in Texas within nine years.

According to the latest Census data, Texas’ population of 25.1 million increased  by more than 20 percent over the last decade. The number is more than twice the national rate of 9.7 percent.

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