(The Center Square) – California, the state that has led population growth nationally for the last 170 years, reported a population loss under Gov. Gavin Newsom for the first time since 1850, according to newly published Census Bureau data.
Until 2020, California had gained population in every year since 1900.
Increasing taxes, restrictive policies on businesses and ongoing lockdowns have led individuals and Silicon Valley companies to exit the Golden State in record numbers over the last two years, but in 2020 for the first time California lost 70,000 residents on net.
From 2010 to 2015, California gained 300,000 residents on average annually, with a total gain of 1.6 million. Since 2015, California’s population growth declined until reaching nearly zero in 2019.
During that time, the Census Bureau restated California’s 2018 to 2019 population change, which had been projected to be a gain of 51,000, to a gain of 147.
The California Department of finance reported that in 2018, California’s population growth rate fell to 0.47 percent – the slowest growth recorded since data collection began in 1900 until this past year.
“An older demographic and a wealth tax are among the reasons the state’s growth rate has stalled,” the Christian Scientist Monitor reported.
Population decline is “evidence of the housing shortage. Or simply put, it’s too expensive to live here,” Dowell Myers, a professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy and director of the Population Dynamics Research Group, argued.
William Fulton, a former mayor of Ventura and director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, notes that the average home price in the Bay Area is more than $1 million. One of California’s problems is that it “has under-produced housing since the late ‘80s. It will take years – if not decades – of aggressive housing production to reverse that trend.”
Fulton explains, “Many cities and counties in California have constructed their whole approach to budgets around two things: 1. Ever-increasing sales taxes; 2. The front-end property tax increases and impact fee revenues that come with new residential construction. If population growth goes away permanently, sales tax may flatten and the front-end tax and fee revenues will likely stagnate. Cities will have long-term financial problems.”
Population growth decline was notable last year with residents and companies moving out state, bringing their tax dollars with them.
According to United Van Lines’ National Migration study based on data from its customers’ 2020 state-to-state migration patterns, 59 percent of its customers left California for another state as opposed to moving in to California.
In 2020, Charles Schwab announced it was relocating its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to the Dallas area. Apple announced it was building a new campus in Austin. Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise also announced they were relocating to Texas.
Billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and other companies, also moved to Texas from California, opening a new warehouse in the Austin area.
The California Department of Finance released different population data, which indicates that California didn’t lose people but gained 21,200 based on data for the year ending July 1, 2020.
The Census Bureau’s data states as of July 1, California had 39.37 million people, compared to the state’s analysis of 39.78 million, a difference of roughly 400,000.