California State Population Declining For the First Time

Synthia Stark

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California state is often seen as the most populous state in the entire nation. However, California’s population fell by over 182,000 as of this year. This is the first-ever yearly loss was recorded in history, a growth that was first dated back in 1850.

For those not aware, 1850 was roughly when California had its famous gold rush, and it caused a lot of people to migrate into the sunshine state in huge numbers, all in the hopes of some good old fortune.

These dwindling numbers are right off the heels of another announcement that California could lose a congressional state for the first time ever. The reason for this is simple: California grew much slower than most other states in the past decade.

Despite this dwindling population, California still houses approximately 39.5 million or more. Plus, the congressional delegation will soon be 52 members and it is still the largest — at the moment.

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It’s clear that California’s population really surged back in 1850 and then slowed in the following decades. Some other world events have increased these numbers, such as World War II, and the tech boom of the 1980s and 1990s that led to the creation of Silicon Valley.

For example, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, about 6.1 million people left between the years 2010 to 2020. Meanwhile 4.9 million arrived from other parts of the United States. Now, in more recent times, more people have started leaving. Some say it’s because of the politics and high taxes, such as Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego. Others may disagree. 

That being said, the average price for a single-family home hit a high record increase of 23.9% — which is a lot.

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Kevin Faulconer is one of the Republican candidates hoping to dislodge Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in this year’s recall election. Meanwhile, Gavin Newsom’s administration has attributed the population decline to ongoing world events like the pandemic.

It’s possible that both could be right. Let’s try to work this out:

Generally speaking, the number of births and international immigrants have generally offset these losses but things changed in 2020. For example, roughly 140,000 to 150,000 people have moved in from other countries. It’s believed that since the Trump administration halted new visas for much of the year, this number is now 29,000.

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If we did take into account current world events, there have definitely been a lot of global lockdowns, which caused a 29% decline in international students arriving in California. These students would normally make up 53,000 people.

Plus, not that many people want to necessarily have kids at this time, which is a national trend for this specific year. Deaths have also increased since California lost a little over 51,000 people. This means that there is a 19% increase in the state’s death rate compared to the previous three-year-old average.

Of course, most of the people who perished did so in the most populated cities like Los Angeles. Los Angeles itself had a 27% increase in the number of deaths over the three-year-average, which is 52,000 people. This means that the current population is a little over 3.9 million.

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Other populated cities like San Jose, San Franciso, San Diego, and Los Angeles, lost a total of 88,000 in 2021. However, other places, like Fresno, Sacramento, and Bakersfield have had more people move on, possibly because the cost of living there is a lot more reasonable.

Perhaps when the pandemic is over, house prices may change, causing more people to be born and causing more people to migrate into California to make up for the past population losses. 

Whatever happens, at least we know that California state is a fascinating place. It’s a got a bit of everything, such as the great weather, the great people, and most importantly, great ideas. Hopefully, whatever is causing the population decline will reverse itself. 

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Writer & Researcher | Therapist-in-Training | Crisis Responder | Writing wholesome stories for the masses.

New York City, NY
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