In 2020, the population of California decreased by nearly 182,000 people, making it a 0.46% loss to just under 39.5 million people.
This was found just one week after the U.S. Census Bureau reported a slowing population growth in California, resulting in the state losing a congressional seat for the first time.
After becoming a state in 1850, California experienced population booms after World War II due to the defense and aerospace industry and again in the 1980’s/90’s thanks to technological growth in the Silicon Valley.
In the last three decades however, experts say that more people have left California than moved in, but the numbers have been offset by international immigration and birth so California continued to grow.
California hit a negative migration rate in 2020 much due to corornavirus restrictions around the world. The pandemic caused about a 29% decline in international students coming to California, adding up to slightly over 50,000 people.
California’s population became a political issue in 2020 with the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. Many blamed the governor’s high taxes and strict policies for people moving out of state to others such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida. In the last decade, about 6.1 million people left California while only about 4.9 million people moved in according to census data by the Public Poicy Institute of California.
Officials believe that the state’s population will return to a “slightly positive annual growth” for the 2021 calendar year.