Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2011-12-07 "California's population growth slows; Solano sees an exodus" by Matt O'Brien from "MediaNews Group"
California now has 37.5 million residents but the state population is growing at one of the slowest rates in its history, according to new estimates released Tuesday by the Department of Finance.
Continuing a trend of fewer immigrants, fewer births and more Californians moving elsewhere, the state's population grew by just .7 percent in the last year, a slight increase over last year's growth rate of .65 percent.
"The last really healthy growth year we had was 2003," said state demographer John Malson.
A down economy has deterred immigration for years and caused some longtime residents to leave, but since 2008 the birth rate has also been in decline.
"We always had a fairly high fertility level. Now it's dropped below replacement levels," Malson said.
California's child-bearing women now have an average of 1.9 children, which is below what is considered the replacement level of 2.1, he said.
The state added about 325,000 people since the U.S. Census Bureau took its once-a-decade count in April 2010.
Solano County had the biggest exodus in the Bay Area, losing about 2,000 people who moved elsewhere. Because of births, however, the county still grew by 415 people.
The Bay Area's biggest counties grew faster than the state as a whole in the last year. Santa Clara grew just over 1 percent to reach a population of 1,805,861. Alameda County grew by .8 percent to reach 1,525,955, and Contra Costa County grew by .85 percent to reach 1,061,132.
"The Bay Area has not suffered the economic downturn nearly as much as other parts of California," Malson said.
In Napa and San Francisco counties, net migration was the primary source of growth. In most other counties, more people moved out than moved in and births were the primary growth factor.
Eighteen of the state's 58 counties experienced population decline, most of them in the Sierra Nevada and the rural north. Riverside and Imperial counties grew the fastest.

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