In September, the U.S. Census Bureau released their initial results after months of delays due to COVID-19.
According to the 2020 census data, the population of Robertson County increased by 9.8 percent within the last decade, while the City of Springfield saw an increase of 14.2 percent.
Springfield’s population increased from 16,440 in April of 2010 to 18,872 in April of 2020. At 72,803 residents, the population of Robertson County is up from 66,283 a decade ago.
The state, counties and municipalities like Robertson County are currently using the data to redraw congressional, legislative and local district boundaries.
At a special-called meeting last Tuesday, the Robertson County Election Commission finalized a new redistricting map. It will then go for a vote before the County Commission to be fully approved on Monday, Oct. 18.
“Things didn’t change much. The main areas of growth in our county came from Districts 2, which was the White House area, and Districts 9 and 12 which is the City of Springfield,” Administrator of Elections Cathy Hamsley said. “Those three districts had growth, so they had to lose some population. So we moved and shuffled around some population from the 2nd district into the 3rd district. We moved some in the 9th and 12th district into the 10th and 11th districts.”
The population in all 12 districts must be roughly the same when drawing a new map, with a less than 10 percent deviation between each district. Based on the new total population of Robertson County, that new average per district comes to roughly 6,000 residents.
According to Hamsley the new map that was drawn by the election commission came in at about seven percent deviation per district.
“White House and Springfield showed that that’s where the majority of the growth is from,” Robertson County Mayor Billy Vogle said. “And Coopertown has come up real fast in third. Based on infrastructure, that’s usually where the districts are changed.”
While a district map for the county has been finalized, the redistricting process for the city wards of Springfield is still in its early stages. City Engineer and Community Development Director David Brewer says the city is receiving help through a geographic information system (GIS) from Austin Peay State University to help draw their new map.
“We have not yet begun to try to determine what our wards are going to look like yet. We’re presently talking with Austin Peay GIS to help us lay out our new ward boundaries. So we just haven’t had the availability to get that block in census data in a geographical format to make those decisions yet. We will layout based on population and submit that to the board for approval.”
The census also collects additional information in addition to population numbers. For example, the median value of owner-occupied housing in Springfield from 2015-2019 is listed at $154,800. The median household income for Springfield is $46,897 and $63,307 for all of Robertson County.
The percentage of those over 25 who are high school graduates or higher is 87.2 percent for the county, while the percentage of those holding a bachelor’s degree or higher is 19.6 percent.
According to the census, the town of Greenbrier saw a 6 percent increase to their population at 6,898 from 6,433 10 years ago.
Neighboring White House’s population is listed as 12,982 compared to the 2010 census, which had a population of 10,255.
While both Robertson County and its cities have seen growth over the past decade, many feel that the numbers are actually higher due to a lower participation of residents taking the census.
“I really do think the numbers were lower this time due to COVID,” Hamsley said. “I just don’t think everybody participated, so I’m certain over the next 10 years there will be lots of growth across the county.”
“It always seems like where the census would help the most is where the worst participation is,” Vogle added. “Usually it’s in the rural areas and places like that. But that’s all that you can go by, is the census.
The census is conducted by Federal law every 10 years. The information gathered determines how many representatives each state will have in Congress for the next 10 years.
While the population data based on the census is being used for redistricting within the county, these numbers will also affect federal funding to communities for roads, schools, housing, and social programs.
Additional information from the U. S. Census can be found at census.gov.