Birthrates, Cost of Living Slow California Population Growth

FILE- This Oct. 28, 2015, file photo shows the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline from the Marin Headlands above Sausalito, Calif. Officials say the high cost of living in cities like San Francisco contributed to California’s slow population growth. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

(CN) – In a report issued Wednesday, officials say falling birthrates combined with a high cost of living combined to make California’s population growth rate of 0.47 the slowest in state history.

The Golden State added 186,806 residents during 2018, bringing the total population to roughly 39,927,315 as of January 1, 2019, according to a report issued by the California Department of Finance on Wednesday.

In breaking down the data, Chico added the most amount of people with an influx in population of approximately 19,000 largely due to the Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in state history which leveled the town of Paradise.  

The destruction of 14,600 houses in Butte County alone contributed to the migration of individuals to Chico and the surrounding environs.

Other cities that saw major growth included Sacramento, which added about 7,400 people and San Diego, which witnessed an increase in population of about 6,200 people.

Of the ten largest cities, only Sacramento and Bakersfield saw population growth above 1 percent.

Long Beach saw a population decline year-over-year.

San Jose was basically flat in terms of population, seeing a 0.02% increase. Los Angeles County also saw no population growth, according to the study.

Part of the reason is related to cost of living as people are priced out of cities like San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles, but part of it is the cost of having children in general.

State officials said they expected a decline in birthrates but were surprised at how precipitous the decline was year-over-year.

There were 18,000 fewer births in 2018 than 2017.

Tina Daley, chief of California’s Demographic Research Unit, said teen pregnancy rates are in decline and, more broadly, people are waiting until later in life to have children.

Immigration patterns are also shifting as less people are coming to California from neighboring Mexico, while people from China continue to settle in California.

The information comes as California prepares for the 2020 Census, a critical tool the federal government uses when considering how to distribute funds and grants.

Officials said California will continue to grow, adding about 10 million people in the next 30 years before demographers expect deaths to outstrip births.

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