Why Is Missouri Losing Congressional Seats?
The South County Journal poses this question without (in my opinion) the right answer. In 1980, Missouri lost its first Congressional seat when its population growth began to stagnate. Preliminary estimates suggest that Missouri will lose a second seat after the 2010 census.
John Stoeffler, the co-founder of a constitutional think tank, argues that the reason Missouri is missing out is because the Census doesn’t apportion representatives based on citizenship. In other words, he argues that the gain in congressional seats in border states is based on an influx of immigrants without voting rights.
But I wonder if something else could be going on, too? Maybe the reason why “border state” representation has been growing while Missouri representation has been declining is indicative of fundamental economic growth shifts. Could it be that Missouri is stagnating while other states are growing?
In 1900, Missouri had a larger population than California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Today, only New Mexico lags behind Missouri. An even more interesting picture emerges if we look at the compound annual growth rates of those states’ populations versus that of their household incomes since the 1980 Census.
|1980-2006 CAGR (Population)||0.66%||1.90%||1.63%||1.53%||3.17%|
|1980-2006 CAGR (Personal Income)||2.49%||3.81%||3.24%||3.45%||4.86%|
Since 1980, Missouri’s population and household income growth has lagged behind those of all four southern U.S. border states. Could it be that declining congressional representation has more to do with shifting economic importance?
Missouri is stagnating. This is why it is so important that Missourians petition their state representatives for better legislation. Lower taxes, better education, and more secure property rights will make Missouri a more competitive place to do business. For example, Missouri has a higher marginal income tax rate than any of the states listed above (except for California). Missouri’s education system continues to decline and remains below the national average. If we fix these things, Missouri will become more attractive and people will flock to the state once again.
Missouri needs better laws. That’s why it’s losing congressional seats.