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Alaska gains population

New U.S. Census data shows Alaska's population grew by 83,299 people over the past decade.

As of April 1, the census count day, there were 710,231 people living in Alaska. That compares with 626,932 on April 1, 2000.

Alaska remains one of the nation's least populous states, ranking 47th overall -- up one spot from 2000.

Alaska's population grew 13.3 percent during the decade; only 14 states grew faster. But on a percentage basis, that was the slowest growth rate for Alaska since the 1920s.

Wyoming is the least populous state, with 563,626 people. It also ranked 50th in 2000.

The Census Bureau says the U.S. population is 308.7 million, reflecting the lowest growth since the Great Depression.

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves says the figure represents an increase of 9.7 percent over the 2000 U.S. resident population of 281.4 million. The 1990s growth rate was 13.2 percent.

Since the 2000 census, Texas gained the most people, up 4.3 million residents to 25.1 million. Nevada has gained the most residents as a percentage of its 2000 census count, growing 35 percent to 2.7 million. California is the most populous state with 37.2 million residents.

Only one state, Michigan, lost population during the past decade.

The new numbers are a boon for Republicans, with Texas leading the way among GOP-leaning states that will gain House seats, mostly at the Rust Belt's expense. Following each once-a-decade census, the nation must reapportion the House's 435 districts to make them roughly equal in population, with each state getting at least one seat.

That triggers an often contentious and partisan process in many states, which will draw new congressional district lines that can help or hurt either party.

In all, the census figures show a shift affecting 18 states taking effect when the 113th Congress takes office in 2013.

Texas will gain four new House seats, and Florida will gain two. Gaining one each are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Ohio and New York will lose two House seats each. Losing one House seat are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Florida will now have as many U.S. House members as New York: 27. California will still have 53 seats, and Texas will climb to 36.

In 2008, President Barack Obama lost in Texas and most of the other states that are gaining House seats. He carried most of the states that are losing House seats, including Ohio and New York.

Each House district represents an electoral vote in the presidential election process, meaning the political map for the 2012 election will tilt somewhat more Republican.

If Obama were to carry the same states he won in 2008, they would net him six fewer electoral votes under the new map. Some states Obama won, such as Florida, tilted Republican in last month's election and the electoral votes they will gain could further help GOP candidates in 2012.

More on the U.S. Census
Daily News staff and wire reports