To be clear: only the rate of growth has declined; there are hundreds of thousands more people in this state than there were last year, despite the official unemployment rate of 12.3 percent.
California population growth slows, San Francisco Chronicle, December 18, 2009 California's population growth slowed over the past year as tens of thousands of residents moved away - many of them heading to other Western states, according to the state Department of Finance. The Golden State's population grew by 353,000 to 38.4 million from July 2008 to July 2009. The only years with lower growth rates since 1900 were 1994-96, according to a report released by the department Thursday. More people left the state for other parts of the country than moved here, a difference of about 142,000 people. While that number is outweighed by people moving from other countries to California, it continues a trend of migration to other states that began in 2005. Since that year, more than half a million more people have left California than have moved to the state. They mainly have moved to neighboring Western states, said Mary Heim, chief of the demographic research unit at the Department of Finance. In past years, more of those people moved to Nevada, but last year saw an increase in people moving to Oregon and Washington, she said. Texas also attracts a large number of Californians. Hans Johnson, a demographer at the Public Policy Institute of California, said he is not surprised by the data. "Most people who move to or from California do so for economic reasons, specifically jobs. Our unemployment rate is significantly higher than the rest of the country and when that happens, California tends to send more migrants to other states than we receive," Johnson said. California's birthrate and immigration from outside the United States, both legal and illegal, kept the state's growth rate positive at 0.92 percent.