California’s population grew less than 1 percent in the last year, the slowest growth rate in more than a decade and a vivid indicator of the continued toll that the deep recession has taken on the state.
Demographers said the population slowdown was largely attributable to two of the main impacts of the recession: high unemployment and the skyrocketing number of home foreclosures.
Hans Johnson, associate director of the Public Policy Institute of California, noted that the state’s jobless rate of 12.5 percent was higher than the national rate of 10.2 percent and that the gap was even more noticeable when California unemployment is compared with the rates in Texas and Washington, two traditional sources of migrants to California.
Dennis Myers, a state economist, said the collapse of the housing market was also a major factor in the slowdown. San Bernardino County, saddled with one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the U.S., lost 11,519 residents in the last year. The county had been among the fastest growing in the nation earlier in the decade, gaining 30,000 or more annually. Riverside County, also plagued with a foreclosure crisis, posted the slowest growth rate this decade.
Myers and Johnson said the state historically has grown faster than the nation because of immigration, but those flows have slowed.
“There’s a sense that California has limited opportunities and a high cost of living,” Johnson said.