JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – There were few surprises for Mississippi when new census figures were released Thursday – DeSoto, Lamar, Madison and Rankin counties saw impressive growth.
Harrison County, Mississippi's most populous coastal county, saw a small decrease in population, which was not surprising because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
State Rep. Tommy Reynolds, who's in charge of redistricting in the Mississippi House, said the 2010 figures are about what officials expected. The numbers will be used to redraw voting districts. The state is not expected to lose any congressional representatives in Washington. States are given congressional seats based on population, which is measured by the census every 10 years.
"I don't think there were big surprises. I think DeSoto had anticipated the growth. I anticipated it," Reynolds said. "Everything that was anticipated seems to have come to pass."
Reynolds, a Democrat from Water Valley, said this is the first time he can remember Harrison County not growing, but the fact that the population decreased less than 2 percent after many people were dislocated after Katrina shows there are "pretty resilient folks" in the area.
Mississippi's other two coastal counties grew, with Jackson County seeing the biggest increase – more than 8,000 people – from 131,420 to 139,668. Hancock County grew from 42,969 to 43,929.
Still, that was modest when compared to a few of the fastest-growing areas.
DeSoto County, which contains suburbs of Memphis, Tenn., like Southaven and Olive Branch, saw growth of more 54,000 people, from 107,199 to 161,252.
Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, a Republican in his fourth term, attributed the growth to the county's amenities and good educational system.
"We have shopping, medical centers, distribution centers and jobs," he said.
Davis said the area could get two or three new representatives in the Mississippi House and one in the Mississippi Senate.
In the Jackson metro area, Madison and Rankin counties also saw big gains. Rankin's population increased by about 26,000 people, to 141,617. Madison grew by about 20,000 people, to 95,203.
Lamar County near Hattiesburg grew by 16,590 people and now has a population of about 55,658.
The census data will have to be broken down even more so county governments and municipalities can use the information to redraw voting districts on the local level.
"It's going to take the committee some time to extrapolate the information," Reynolds said. "It'll take a few days, but not many."
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