California’s population dropped by 117,552 residents last year, a dip representing a 0.3% decline, according to data released Monday from the California Department of Finance.
The drop brings California’s population to 39,185,605 people as of January 1, the department estimates. Officials said the 0.3% decline “represents a slowing compared to the 0.59-percent decline” between the April 2020 census date and the end of last year.
“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,” Monday’s report stated.
Officials noted that COVID-19 deaths, federal policies limiting immigration and an “increase in domestic out-migration” impacted the population totals. They also wrote that “continuing federal delays in processing foreign migration” impacted overall growth.
According to the report, 34 of 58 California counties saw population losses, with the top three largest percent losses occurring in Plumas (-3.2%), Lassen (-2.8%) and Butte (-2.4%). The state’s three most populous counties also saw population losses, with Los Angeles County seeing a decrease of 70,114 individuals, San Diego County down 1,197 individuals and Orange County by 7,297 individuals.
Every coastal county also saw declines except for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, though officials said that is due in part to college students returning to campus.
Six out of 10 of California’s largest cities saw population losses, with San Jose (-1.5%), Oakland (-1.3%) and Anaheim (-1%) seeing declines of 1% or more. Bakersfield saw the largest percentage gain at 0.7%, followed by San Diego with a 0.2% increase.
Yolo County saw a 1.8% population increase due to greater numbers of college dorms, and San Benito County saw a 1.1% increase due to “housing gains,” the report states. These two counties represent the only regions that saw growth over 1%, while Modoc County saw a 1% increase, Tuolumne County saw a 0.9% increase and Merced County saw a 0.9% increase.