BALTIMORE (AP) -- Maryland's population increased by 9 percent in the past 10 years, according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday, which means the state will keep the same number of congressional seats.
Maryland has eight congressional districts and is one of 32 states that won't gain or lose any seats.
The state's population is 5,773,552, according to the Census -- up from 5,296,486 in 2000. Maryland retains its ranking as 19th in population. The state's population growth was 23rd in the nation by percentage, and nationwide, the population growth rate was similar -- 9.7 percent.
The more detailed Census data that's used to redraw congressional district boundaries likely won't be available until February or March, said Jane Traynham, state data center manager for the Maryland Department of Planning.
There were few surprises in the Maryland figures, said Traynham, who noted that Maryland wasn't as hit as hard by the recession as many states, in part because of the high concentration of federal government jobs.
"Our projection matches up with what the Census count was," she said. "Fortunately, we didn't lose any seats in Congress."
The General Assembly will need to take up redistricting before the filing deadline for congressional candidates. Depending on the date of Maryland's 2012 presidential primary, that could mean that the legislature will have to call a special session next year to redraw district boundaries.
Democrats enjoy strong majorities in the statehouse and control six of Maryland's eight congressional seats. State leaders could attempt to alter the 1st District to make it more attractive to Democrats, but political analysts aren't sure whether that could be done without making incumbent Democrats more vulnerable.
Democrats tinkering with district boundaries would have to make sure that Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger is protected, said Donald F. Norris, director of the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Ruppersberger's 2nd District was previously represented by a Republican.
As a result, any changes through redistricting are likely to be subtle, Norris said.
"I don't think it'll be wholesale," he said. "You can be sure that the incumbents are going to make sure that they don't get hurt."
Rep. Frank Kratovil, a moderate Democrat, lost to conservative Republican Andy Harris in November after one term representing the 1st District, which includes the entire Eastern Shore and some conservative-leaning Baltimore suburbs. Kratovil has said he would consider running again.
The 1st District "was intended to be kind of a quarantine for Republicans," said Matthew Crenson, a Johns Hopkins University political scientist. "Until there's another Democratic year, it's not likely that they'll win that district again."
The only other district represented by a Republican is the 6th District in conservative western Maryland.
One potential wrinkle in the redistricting process is a bill approved last year that requires the state to count prisoners based on their last address before incarceration. The change will lead to a slight upturn in population totals for Baltimore and other urban areas at the expense of rural western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, home to the majority of Maryland's prison population.
By BEN NUCKOLS