California's Moderate Population Growth: The New Normal

New demographic data released Dec. 11 by the state Department of Finance shows the state grew by 335,000 people to 38.5 million, nearly one percent, despite a declining birth rate. While the most in six years, the growth rate has slowed overall.

2 minute read

December 13, 2014, 1:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid


Melody Gutierrez of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on the newly released data by the California Department of Finance. Growth came from two sources:

  • "Births outnumbered deaths nearly 2 to 1" accounting "for a net increase of 243,000 people."
  • "Net migration add(ed) 92,000 legal and undocumented immigrants". The "net" is very important because the state continued the pattern of shedding more residents than attracting from other states notwithstanding a lessening noted below.

"(T)he state’s birthrate [sic] stood at 12.9 per 1,000 residents in July, the lowest since 1934, when more than one-fifth of Americans were out of work," writes Jim Miller of the The Sacramento Bee, which he attributes greatly to "a sharp drop in the rate of teen pregnancies."

Net migration increased in part due to "(t)he number of people leaving California for other states, meanwhile, dropped to its lowest level since 2003," adds Miller.

“It’s an indication that things are picking up a bit,” John Malson, research manager at the state Department of Finance, said of the state’s economy..

The state's population lies disproportionately in the southern part. Of the nine counties that account for 70% of the population, each with over one million residents, the first five are in southern California, three in the Bay Area, and Sacramento County, reports Gutierrez.

Dan Walters of the The Sacramento Bee reports on a new U.S. Census Bureau report showing that "California’s once-soaring population growth slowed markedly during the last two decades, barely keeping pace with the nation as a whole since 2000," and writes how it will affect California's political clout.

One political effect probably will be that California, long accustomed to gaining congressional seats after every decennial census, will have to be content with little or no change in its 53-member delegation for the foreseeable future.

The Census Bureau projects an 8.4 percent increase in the nation’s population between 2010 and 2020, for instance, while state demographers see a 9 percent growth for California, a differential that’s likely not large enough to earn California another seat.

The slow growth was also reported in July by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Walters writes about the changing demographics within California - the continued growth of the state's Latino population, "projected to expand by 80 percent to nearly half of the state’s residents by 2060," while the Asian and Pacific Islanders will expand by about 50 percent.

Latinos, it says, will account for nearly three-quarters of all California population growth during that half-century period.

Friday, December 12, 2014 in San Francisco Chronicle

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