What the 2020 Census reveals about Pierce County

The 2020 Census was released late this decade, somewhat caused by squabbles about how it would be conducted and somewhat caused by working through the pandemic. Where the population numbers land impacts representation, number of Congressional Districts, and how the new lines are drawn to balance the population in legislative and county districts.

The population of Washington State was recorded as 7.7 million, an increase that has slowed a bit from 10 years ago. Pierce County has grown to 921,130 a 15.8% increase over 10 years. Looking in more detail at that link, you will see a map that gives lots of data on population, diversity, age and housing. Here are a few interesting screen shots:

For those of us who live in the unincorporated areas south of Tacoma, but inside the urban growth area (UGA), the total size of our area also speaks volumes. Adding together the census tracts for Graham, South Hill, Elk Plain, Frederickson, Spanaway, Parkland, Midland, Summit, Waller, and North Collins Clover Creek, you get 246,859.

By contrast, the City of Tacoma has a population of 221,259. Lakewood is 62,089.

Consider, the unincorporated areas are run by the Pierce County Council, but decision on allocating funds between the County and Cities for things like transportation and roads is thrown to a group called the Pierce County Regional Council, which is made up of representatives of cities. Since Tacoma is so much larger than other Pierce County cities, they have two representatives in that group. The other cities have one and the County Council has two. Those two are Derek Young (Gig Harbor Peninsula, District 7) and Dave Morell (East Pierce County, District 1), not the area with more population that Tacoma. In case you ever wonder why we do not have the roads we need, your answers lies somewhere in this paragraph. It may pay to include multiple Council Members if you write to them on issues of interest.

Look at the growth map above. The brightest green is where we are growing. Notice how much is outside (south) of the UGA line at 208th Street. Here is another map where the dashed red line shows where the growth boundary exists.

The Pierce County Regional Council’s next meeting is October 21, 2021. Their agenda includes, Countywide Planning Policies. Public comment is 3 minutes per person at the beginning of the meeting, before any discussion takes place.

Getting to the population of individual communities is more difficult because the population is measured in census tracts, their lines do not conform to the community boundaries. You can dig deeper if you scroll to the bottom on the page on this Census link and start adding up each Census tract.

The census happens every 10 years. These populations and demographic figures determine how Federal dollars are allocated to local governments, how representation to County and state government is apportioned. That process, called redistricting, is happening now in both Pierce County and Washington State. The state redistricting site has a link to draw what you believe are the boundaries of your community.

Do you have the time to look? How many people do? Who is looking? The few that actually participate are affecting everyone. That could be you, or not.

[Editor note: At the PCRC meeting, CM Ryan Mello, CM Jani Hitchen, CM Dave Morell, and Council Staff, Hugh Taylor were present. Editor related the population and wish to be included in the Council without having to incorporate. Apparently, it would require a Bylaws change for the Council.]

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