California No Longer ‘Magnet’ as Rate of Population Growth Slows in Census
California saw higher growth in its inland cities and counties than on the coast and found double- digit increases in its Asian and Hispanic populations over the past decade, according to 2010 Census data released today.
In Los Angeles, the state’s largest city, the population climbed 2.6 percent to 3.8 million since 2000. In San Diego, the population rose 6.9 percent to 1.3 million. San Jose saw an increase of 5.7 percent to 945,942 and San Francisco’s population rose 3.7 percent to 805,235, during the same period, census data showed.
Fresno, the state’s fifth-largest city, had a population increase of 15.7 percent to 494,665 since 2000. The largest city in California’s Central Valley, it is located approximately 155 miles (250 kilometers) inland from Monterey.
Coastal areas tended to be “hostile to business” and development, while jobs and cheaper housing drove people inland, according to Joel Kotkin, author of, “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050,” a book published last year about the nation’s demographic changes.
“High energy prices and subprime mortgages were supposed to be the death of suburbia,” Kotkin said in a telephone interview. “That didn’t happen.”
California’s rate of growth slowed with the total population increasing 10 percent between 2000 and 2010 to 37,253,956, the data show. That was the lowest rate since census numbers were compiled for the state. In the 2000 census, California saw a 13.8 percent increase and in 1990, it grew by 25.7 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“California is becoming an anchor more than a magnet, sort of like New York. It’s a center of power and wealth, but a place middle class folks have been moving out of to more affordable parts of the country,” said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“California’s population will continue to grow although not nearly at the rate we’ve seen in the past. The idea that ‘We’ll just shuck everything and move to California,’ those days are gone, even among some of the immigrant populations,” Frey said.
Neighboring Nevada’s population increased 35.1 percent between 2010 and 2000, Oregon’s grew 12 percent over the same period, and Arizona’s population increased more than 28 percent between 2000 and 2009, U.S. Census Bureau data show.
Non-Hispanic Asians were California’s fastest-growing ethnic group, rising 30.9 percent to 4.8 million over the past 10 years. They now comprise 12.8 percent of the state’s population, up from 10.8 percent a decade ago, the data show.
California’s Hispanic population rose 27.8 percent to 14 million, or 37.6 percent of the population. Non-Hispanic whites declined 5.4 percent to 15 million or 40.1 percent of the population. Blacks declined 0.8 percent to 2.2 million or 5.8 percent of the population.
Los Angeles, the largest county in the state, saw its population climb 3.1 percent to 9.8 million since 2000, the census data showed. Beyond the coast, Riverside County saw its population climb 41.7 percent to 2.19 million, while San Bernardino County’s population rose 19.1 percent to 2 million.
While the housing bust has caused property values to fall and unemployment to rise in the inland counties, many foreclosed homes are quickly sold and reoccupied, according to David Swanson, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside.
“We don’t have the kind of housing-abandonment problem you see in other parts of the country,” Swanson said. “We had the inland regions booming prior to the housing crisis and we’re ending up finding the inland grew faster than the rest of the state at the end of the decade.”
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