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California population teeters near 40 million

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As of January 1, state estimates some 39.81 million residents

A night photo of the SF skyline.
SF’s population on the up too.
Photo by Dllu/Wikicommons

Despite California’s woes with water and housing, the state’s population continues to grow, at least according to estimates by the state’s Department of Finance.

On Tuesday, the state released new demographic reports estimating that the Golden State, already the most populous in the union, sits on the trembling verge of 40 million people, with roughly 39,81 million residents.

For comparison, Texas, the next most populous state, estimates its own 2018 population at just a little more than 29 million.

Growth during 2017 was actually a bit below average for this decade, according to a Department of Finance press release:

California added 309,000 residents in 2017. [...] Last year’s 0.78-percent growth rate compares to the 0.86-percent annualized growth rate since the 2010 Census. Since 2010, when the state’s population was 37,253,956, population growth has averaged 333,000 a year.

[...] Growth was strongest in the more densely populated counties in the Bay Area, the Central Valley, and Southern California, averaging 0.86 percent. Of California’s 482 cities, 421 saw gains in population, 57 saw reductions, and 4 experienced no change.

Note that these estimates are preliminary and that next year’s figures will adjust the 2018 estimate, just as this latest report provides a slightly more accurate view of what the state looked like this time last year.

The state also points out that “San Francisco, with a population of 884,000, added almost 10,000 persons. [...] San Jose (1,051,000) rounds out the top five largest numeric changes with an increase of 8,500 persons.”

This is essentially the same figure reported by the US Census Department earlier this year, which pegged San Francisco county’s population as 884,363.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office reported in February that between 2007 and 2016, roughly a million more people moved away from the state as came in.

But since migration is not the only way that populations grow, the state has continued to become more populous anyway, and the length of the nine year period means that attempts to pin the change on any one cause—the housing crisis, for example, or political agendas—are at best incomplete.