The state of California this week reported its first-ever population decline in its 2020 census numbers, a shock development that comes after a year of severe COVID-19 lockdowns alongside other factors such as rising housing costs and a dip in birth rates.

The state’s population fell by around 182,000 residents, a reduction of about 0.5%. California was among the states that lost a congressional seat in the latest census assessment due to its population woes. 

The news follows more than a year of strict COVID-19 lockdowns and mitigation measures put in place by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election in large part due to voter disaffection with his management over the past year. 

Public Policy Institute of California fellow Eric McGhee told the Sacramento Bee the state’s high cost of living was also to blame. 

“The housing is really expensive here,” he told the paper. “It means that a lot of people end up moving out of the state because they can’t afford to live here.”

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