The Population of California Sees Yet Another Year Of Decline

Out in the state of California, the population continues its trend of declining for a second consecutive year, as stated in a newly released data set from the state.

In a report released Monday by the California Department of Finance, the population of the state dropped by 117,552 people in the year 2021, which ended up putting the total population for the state at 39,185,605 people as of the first of January, 2022. However, that population drop was sitting at just about 0.3% which was a marked slowdown from back in 2020 when the population of the state was dropping by almost 0.59% between the April 2020 Census date and the end of that calendar year, stated the report from the Department of Finance.

The report highlighted that quite a bit of the state’s “plateauing” population growth was due to a continuing slowing in natural increase. “As Baby Boomers age, and fertility declines among younger cohorts, the continuing slowdown in natural increase — births minus deaths — underlies the plateauing of the state’s population growth,” stated the report. Other possible factors seemed to include deaths from COVID-19, residents of the state choosing to leave, and harsher federal immigration restrictions.

The vast majority of counties in California, 34 out of the total 58, dropped in population over the course of 2021.  The most drastic drops were seen in Plumas County, which ended up losing 3.2% of its total population, Lassen County, which saw a 2.8%, and Butte County, which dropped by almost 2.4%. Most notable, however, was San Francisco County which ended up losing about 0.8% of its total population.

Along these lines, the three most populated counties also saw notable population losses: San Diego County lost about 1,200 residents, 0.04%; Los Angeles County lost 0.7% of its population, about 70,000 people; and Orange County lost about 7,300 people, 0.2%.

Just a minuscule 2 counties, San Benito and Yolo, showed a population gain breaking the 1% threshold. The state also stated that Yolo County’s increases were because of college dormitories, while the increase in San Benito was because of new housing complexes. Quite a few individual cities also dropped in population: 361 cities saw population declines, while 118 saw gains, and 3 saw no change.

The locations that saw increases were for the most part located within the interior sections of the state. The growth in population “remained strong in the interior counties of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire,” stated the report, but also showed that almost every single coastal county dropped in population. All except for three: Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara.

The report explained that these odd gains most likely stemmed from students returning to college campuses after the COVID-19 lockdowns. The state issued a report that Clifornia’s dormitory population fell by about 45%, or roughly 109k people due to the pandemic. These levels have returned to about 98.9% of their normal levels.

“To a certain extent, we have two or three things happening here — the pandemic is there in the sense that natural increase, it really slowed down over these two years. Some of that is a lack of births because of delayed child-bearing decisions,” stated Walter Schwarm, the Department of Finance Chief Demographer to the Los Angles Times. “Things are getting a little better, fertility is coming back after the pandemic.”


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