Republican-leaning states will pick up a half dozen House seats thanks to the 2010 census, which found the nation’s population growing more slowly than in past decades but still shifting to the South and West.

The Census Bureau announced Tuesday that the nation’s population on April 1 was 308,745,538, up from 281.4 million a decade ago. The growth rate for the past decade was 9.7 percent, a slower pace than the 13.2 percent population increase from 1990 to 2000.

Only one state, Michigan, lost population during the past decade. Nevada, with a 35 percent increase, was the fastest-growing state.

The new numbers are a boon for Republicans, with Texas leading the way among GOP-leaning states that will gain House seats at the Rust Belt’s expense. Following each once-a-decade census, the nation must reapportion the House’s 435 districts to make them roughly equal in population, with each state getting at least one seat.

That triggers an often contentious and partisan process in many states, which will draw new congressional district lines that can help or hurt either party.

Texas will gain four new House seats, and Florida will gain two. Gaining one each are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Ohio and New York will lose two House seats each. Losing one House seat are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Florida will now have as many U.S. House members as New York: 27. California will still have 53 seats, and Texas will climb to 36.

In 2008, President Barack Obama lost in Texas and most of the other states that are gaining House seats. He carried most of the states that are losing House seats, including Ohio and Pennsylvania. Each House district represents an electoral vote in the presidential election process, meaning the political map for the 2012 election will tilt somewhat more Republican.

For the first time in its history, Democratic-leaning California will not gain a House seat after a census.

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