California’s 2018 population growth was the slowest in recorded history, but Bay Area residents should not expect to notice a change — and oh by the way we still have nowhere near enough housing.
The state of California did not cross the 40 million people population mark in 2018, as had been expected. But we came pretty GD close — the state Department of Finance just released a report saying the population of California now stands at 39,927,315 people. That’s the slowest growth the state has ever recorded in one year, according to the New York Times, saying the state added just 187,000 new residents last year.
But KQED adds some important context to those numbers, showing the Bay Area’s growth is outpacing the rest of the state. Citing US Census state data (via American Community Survey estimates), KQED points out that “the population of the nine-county region grew by over 600,000 between 2010 and 2018— a nearly 8.5% increase, or about 1% growth per year — outpacing the growth rate in any other part of California.”
(San Francisco’s population grew by only 0.3% in 2018, but that was more than offset by larger increases in surrounding areas like Dublin, Newark, and Pleasanton.)
We have our population and housing problems here in the Bay Area, but at least “Fire-Driven Changes” are not chief among them. That’s the gruesome phrase the department uses to describe the state’s largest single-city population increases in Chico and Oroville (driven almost entirely by Camp Fire relocations).
Broadly speaking, the state is dealing with the same increasing age rates and declining birth rates that the whole country is encountering — the Baby Boomer generation is dying off just as Gen Xers and Millennials are having far fewer children, and later in life. But the annual wildfires are driving population growth downward, plus the mean-spirited Trump immigration policies are having their intended effect of limiting new residents from Mexico and Central America.
And while the state added just 187,000 people last year, we built only 77,000 new housing units. So that continues to be a problem!
California is still the most populous state in the nation by a landslide. The No. 2 state is Texas, which does not even have 30 million people. Both would likely be hit hard, though, by the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census, which the Supreme Court heard arguments about last month after lawsuits from California attorney general Xavier Becerra, among others.
Related: Is the Bay Area Becoming a 21-County 'Megaregion'?