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Anemic growth

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves announces results for the 2010 U.S. Census at the National Press Club, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 in Washington.

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves announces results for the 2010 U.S. Census at the National Press Club, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 in Washington.

Associated Press

It is now official: Utah will finally receive a fourth congressional seat.

This took one decade longer than it should have. In the last census, North Carolina edged out Utah by less than 1,000 inhabitants to get additional representation while over 10,000 Utahns living abroad as missionaries were ignored in the count.

Patience paid off. There was no need to broker a constitutionally questionable deal that might have included representation for the District of Columbia.

In the end, Utah's growth overwhelmed questionable counting. Utah has been the third fastest growing state in the nation, growing close to 24 percent in the past decade. Utah boasts a comparatively resilient economy and one of the country's highest birth rates, both contributing to growth.

Because of the critical role that congressional apportionment plays in the balance of partisan power, much of the press about the census results and the resulting apportionment of congressional seats will focus on shifts in regional and partisan power. The stories will be about winners and losers.

The census data, however, indicates one way in which we all stand to lose. This census shows a national 10-year population growth of 9.7 percent — the smallest 10-year growth rate in America since 1940.

Consider this anemic growth in light of some of the major economic challenges faced by the nation today — mounting federal debt, structurally unsound entitlement programs, and an ongoing housing bust. Each of these problems worsens if population stagnates and the resolution of each problem becomes much easier if population grows.

Unfortunately, current social, demographic and policy trends seem to favor postponement of childbearing, smaller families and fewer immigrants. Not only do these trends dampen consumer-driven economic growth, they reduce the most important contributor to path-breaking innovation: human ingenuity.

It is gratifying to see that Utah's pro-growth policies and culture have helped the state finally obtain greater representation in Congress. We only wish such approaches were at play nationwide.