News & Politics

California Population Drops for the First Time In Its History

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The state of California lost more than 182,000 people in the last decade, the first such drop in the recorded history of the state. The data, released by the Department of Finance, shows a 0.46 decline and is attributed to coronavirus deaths, declining birth rates, slowing immigration, and the high cost of living.

Population growth in the state has slowed considerably in recent years and the pandemic appears to have tipped the scales. “Much has been made of the California exodus, and rightly so. This migration, over the decades, has the power to reshape the state,” states a report by the Public Policy Institute of California released Thursday.

One more nail in Governor Gavin Newsom’s coffin.


Opponents of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election, are sure to use the historic decline as proof of California’s woes. Republicans have long assailed the state’s regulations and tax rates as reasons to leave for red states, a point punctuated by the departure of Tesla CEO Elon Musk for Texas last year. Newsom critics in the past year have pointed to California’s pandemic restrictions and school closures as additional reasons to flee.

But state officials insisted Friday that the population decline is likely a blip due to the unprecedented pandemic, and that California is projected to return to “slight annual positive growth” when estimates are released next year.

Illegal immigration had been fueling California’s growth for decades, which is why state Democrats have been doing everything they can to encourage it.

The biggest loss of California residents in 2020 was due to a continued decline in foreign immigration into the state, “a direct impact” of the Trump administration’s suspension of some visas when the pandemic hit, according to the Department of Finance.

Declines in foreign immigration accounted for 100,000 less people living in California, according to the state. That includes 53,000 international students who remained home due to global restrictions.

Without illegals flooding the state, California would suffer the same fate as other high-tax blue states.

In 28 of the last 30 years, the state has seen more people moving out than in, according to state officials. Since 2018, that outmigration has outpaced international migration into the state, leaving “natural increase,” or the difference between births and deaths, as the only source of population growth, the Department of Finance said.

California’s plight is entire of its own making. What’s worse, they continue to deny that their tax and housing problems are pricing everyone but the very rich and very poor out of the market.

Until the California government returns to sanity, the state will continue to experience slow growth or no growth into the future.