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Michigan’s population increased for the fourth straight year in 2015, but the gains may not be enough to prevent it from losing a congressional seat after the 2020 census.

U.S. census data released Tuesday estimated the state gained 6,270 residents, increasing 0.06 percent to 9,922,576 as of July. The increases are dwarfed by growth in California and southern states such as Texas and Florida.

In contrast, North Carolina grew by 1 percent in 2015 or more than 102,000 residents. The Southern state bypassed Michigan in 2014 to become the nation’s ninth largest by population. Michigan remained the 10th most populous state in 2015.

“Population trends clearly point to a loss of one seat for Michigan and additional losses for other Midwestern states as population continues to flow south and west,” Kurt Metzger, director emeritus of Data Driven Detroit, wrote in an email to The Detroit News.

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Michigan saw nearly 39,000 residents leave for other states in 2015, an increase of more than 10,000 from last year. An increase in births and a decrease in deaths helped offset those losses, said Metzger, who is also mayor of Pleasant Ridge.

Under the population data released Tuesday, Michigan would lose one of its 14 congressional seats after the next comprehensive national census in 2020, according to Metzger and an online tool from the University of Michigan Population Studies Center.

Michigan lost one seat after the 2000 census; two after 1990 and one seat after the 1980 national headcount. Under the latest estimates, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas would gain seats, and Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania would lose.

Gov. Rick Snyder and another top Michigan Republican, while not disputing the projections, said the state has reversed course and is on the rebound.

“Michigan’s population has increased in each of the last four years, a sign that we are on the right track — creating more and better jobs and improving the quality of life for our residents,” said spokesman Dave Murray. “Our goal is to keep our foot on the accelerator.”

Gideon D’Assandro, press secretary to House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, also said the numbers show Michigan is moving in the right direction.

“We were the only state in the country to move backward in the last decade, and now things have been turned around,” D’Assandro said.

Democrats, who are in the minority in Lansing, saw the numbers differently.

“This should serve as a reminder to elected officials currently in charge of state government that we need to institute policies that values education and an economy that works for all Michiganders,” said spokeswoman Katie Carey on behalf of House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills.

Michigan’s population gains this year were significantly smaller than the last three years of increases. In 2014, the census estimated Michigan gained 15,800 residents, more than double this year’s gain.

The state’s population bottomed out in 2011, with a loss of about 780 residents from the previous year. In 2012, it gained 10,290, and in 2013, it grew by 13,627.

The five fastest growing states in 2015 were: North Dakota, with an increase of 2.28 percent, or 16,887 residents; Colorado, 1.89 percent, 100,986; District of Columbia, 1.88 percent, 12,392; Nevada, 1.85 percent, 52,564; and Florida, 1.84 percent, or 365,703 residents.

The seven states that lost population were: Illinois, down 0.17 percent, or 22,194 residents; West Virginia, down 0.25 percent, 4,623; Connecticut, down 0.11 percent, 3,876; Mississippi, down 0.04 percent, 1,110; Maine, down 0.07 percent, 928; Vermont, down 0.12 percent, 725; and New Mexico, down 0.02 percent, or 458 residents.

cmacdonald@detroitnews.com

Top 10 state populations

California 39,144,818

Texas 27,469,114

Florida 20,271,272

New York 19,795,791

Illinois 12,859,995

Pennsylvania 12,802,503

Ohio 11,613,423

Georgia 10,214,860

North Carolina 10,042,802

Michigan 9,922,576

New Jersey 8,958,013

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Estimates are as of July 2015

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