California population decline caps long trend
California lost its population last year, but it’s not a sudden event. Rather, the state has been moving in this direction for decades.
Could you please complete this 3 minute survey on our service? Your feedback will help us make CalMatters better.
California and the national news agencies got a little crazy last week when the state Announcement from the Ministry of Finance that the state’s estimated population declined somewhat in 2020.
The overworked articles largely explained California’s loss of population for the first time in history, with multiple references to the state’s reputation for consistent – and at times dramatic – population growth since the inception of the State in 1850 and the loss of a seat in Congress.
Apparently, those who treated the population counts as an apocalyptic revelation hadn’t paid attention because California had been heading for zero or even negative population growth for at least a quarter of a century, like those of us who follow. demographic trends had often noted this.
In fact, the Census office last December estimated that in the 2019-20 fiscal year that ended on June 30, the state’s population declined – a report largely ignored by state media.
The latest media coverage also overstated the role COVID-19 has played in the state’s population decline. The overall loss was set at 182,083 and pandemic-related deaths were responsible for just over a quarter of that drop.
In other words, even if COVID-19 hadn’t reared its ugly head, California would still have lost population due to long-term demographic trends – declining births, increasing deaths due to the aging of the population, a very slow rate of foreigners. immigration and losses in state-to-state migration.
California has been a net loser in the latter factor for at least two decades, with more people moving to other states – Texas, the # 1 destination – than we are gaining from other states.
The Public Policy Institute of California immersed in this phenomenon a few days before the Ministry of Finance released its new population figures.
“During the 2010s, approximately 6.1 million people left California for other states, while only 4.9 million people moved to California from other parts of the country,” PPIC reported.
“People who move to California are different from those who move. In general, those who move here are more likely to be of working age, have a job, and earn high wages – and are less likely to be in poverty – than those who leave.
“Those who move to California also tend to have a higher level of education than those who move, a particularly important factor given the state’s strong need for college graduates. Notably, this gain in educated residents is concentrated among young university graduates (typically adults in their twenties) looking for early career opportunities.
Between 2010 and 2019, according to the PPIC calculated from federal census data, California recorded a net gain of 154,500 adults with college education in other states and a net loss of 777,400 with a high school diploma. or less. Superficially, this seems like a positive exchange, but it should be troubling as the state suffers from a chronic shortage of qualified blue collar workers.
While, as PPIC notes, high housing costs in California are a big factor in evicting people from the state, the lack of construction workers is a major factor in our inability to build enough housing. The syndrome also applies to many other areas of blue collar workers that are essential to our daily lives, such as auto mechanics.
Demography, they say, is fate. Whether California gains or loses population is less important than whether we will continue to evolve into a highly stratified society with a relatively small, but very well-off outclass, a shrinking middle class, and a huge underclass bogged down in poverty. structural poverty.