May 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

California's population shrinks for first time in state history

Photo of people walking on the beach as the sun sets

Photo: Amanda Edwards via Getty Images

California's population declined last year for the first time in the state's recorded history, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: The state Department of Finance attributed the 0.46% dip — a loss of 182,083 people — to a decrease in out-of-state migration, slowed immigration and the coronavirus pandemic.

What they're saying: "Driven largely by a declining birthrate, the state’s population growth slowed in recent years and essentially hit a plateau," H.D. Palmer, the department’s deputy director and chief spokesperson, told the Post.

  • "What’s temporarily tipped us into negative territory over the past year is deaths caused by covid, combined with the impact of immigration policy."

Worth noting: California is losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in history, according new Census numbers released last month.

The big picture: The state's population grew 6.1% in the last decade, a rate that's lower than the national average, per the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • Though California saw decades of double-digit population increases, more recent economic factors like high housing costs and tax policies have led to migration out of the state, according to the Post.
  • More people have left the state than arrived, and that trend accelerated last year.
  • A recent study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that the state "has been losing lower- and middle-income residents to other states for some time while continuing to gain higher-income adults."
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