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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

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California’s population declined for the first time, and only one Bay Area county grew

California’s population declined for the first time, and only one Bay Area county grew

By Leonardo Castañeda, Mercury News, May 7, 2021

California’s population shrunk in 2020 for the first time in more than a century, a stunning turnabout emerging not long after population shifts cost the largest state in the nation a seat in Congress.

“The decline is significant, but don’t call it ‘an apocalyptic exodus from California,’ cautioned [California Department of Finance] spokesman H.D Palmer. ‘The data do not bear that out.’

“Instead, the department attributed the drop in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which last year resulted in about 51,000 more deaths than the average in recent years. … Federal policies restricting immigration also cost the state about 100,000 residents, the department said.

“The loss of international immigration exacerbated years of negative domestic migration, as more U.S. residents continue to move out of California than move in.

“The population loss was felt strongly in the Bay Area, where Contra Costa was the only county to gain residents.

“Within the Bay Area, Oakland bucked the overall downward trend, adding nearly 3,200 residents.

“Housing, the other topic explored in the report, was one of the few bright spots for California on Friday. The state built 103,073 new housing units in 2020, the first time it produced more than 100,000 units in a year since 2008.

Read the full article here. (~3 min.)

In a blog post for the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California, Hans Johnson observes: “In general, those who move here are more likely to be working age, to be employed, and to earn high wages — and are less likely to be in poverty — than those who move away.” Read his analysis here.

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