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Census: Congressional districts similar in WV

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While West Virginia has seen its share of debate over how the state's three congressional districts were laid out following the 2010 census, new information from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the three districts are relatively equal, at least when it comes to demographics.

Several lawsuits were filed in 2011 following the release of proposed Congressional maps. One lawsuit, filed by the Jefferson County Commission, even made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Those lawsuits challenged the constitutionality of the three districts, claiming the map, which was approved by the Legislature and governor, violated the one-person, one-vote rule; that it did not have numerical equality; and that the districts in the map were not compact enough, because it split the Eastern Panhandle between the 1st and 2nd congressional districts. 

However, information released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week shows the three districts to be fairly similar, even if they have odd shapes.

In terms of population, the 1st Congressional District, which stretches from Hancock to Wood counties and east to Mineral County, has 614,309 residents. The 2nd Congressional District, which stretches across the state from Jackson and Putnam counties to Jefferson County, has 626,469 residents. The 3rd Congressional District, which stretches along the southern part of the state from Mason County to McDowell County and over to Pocahontas and Webster counties, has 614,586 residents.

The Census Bureau also found the districts to be similar when it comes to age distribution. Approximately 23 percent of the population of the 1st and 3rd districts are between the ages of infant and 19; 24 percent of residents in the 2nd district falls within that range. Between 30 and 32 percent of the three districts' residents are age 55 and older. 

In terms of working-age adults, 46 percent of the residents in the 1st and 2nd districts are between the ages of 20 and 54, while 45 percent of the 3rd Congressional District falls within that age range.

One of the few places where differences stand out is in educational attainment.

The 1st Congressional District had the highest percentage of people who have high school diplomas, at 87.8 percent, and the highest percentage of people with a bachelor's degree or higher at 20.3 percent. The 2nd Congressional District was not far behind, with 85.5 percent of residents having a high school diploma and 20.1 percent with at least a bachelor's degree. However, in the 3rd Congressional District, 79.4 percent of residents had a high school education and only 15 percent had at least a bachelor's degree.

The educational level may be linked to another fact in the Census Bureau's data: median household income. The 3rd Congressional District's median income was $34,826, which was far below the median income of $39,170 in the 1st Congressional District or $41,260 in the 2nd Congressional District. 

"For the first time, the Census Bureau's American Community Survey is providing access to detailed demographic data on congressional districts for the 113th Congress," a release from the Census Bureau states. "These statistics include age, education, occupation, income and veteran status.

"They are accessible via Easy Stats, the Census Bureau's new online tool offering quick and easy access to American Community Survey data. These statistics are drawn from the most recent five-year American Community Survey sample, tabulated for redistricted congressional districts of the 113th Congress. Easy Stats provides statistics on a wide range of topics, such as income, occupation, housing and education, down to the local level, including states, counties, cities and towns, and now, congressional districts."

To check out statistics from West Virginia's three congressional districts or districts in any other state, go to www.census.gov/easystats/?intcmp=sldr5