California’s population continues to shrink, according to United States Census Bureau data.
For the third straight year, people left California, according to government estimates. Since the decline began in 2020, the state’s population has shrunk by about 500,000 people. For reference, the population of Wyoming is a bit more than 580,000.
In new data published by the Census Bureau this week, it’s estimated that California’s population shrunk by approximately 113,649 people from July 2021 to July 2022.
There was a net gain across the state in “Natural Change,” the number of births (420,000) and deaths (318,000) during that time frame. But a net loss of more than 217,000 people was recorded as people left the state to move elsewhere.
More than half of California’s 58 counties lost population during that timeframe.
Many of the counties seeing a reduction in population are in Southern California and the Bay Area; two regions in the state that experience some of the highest costs of living in the country.
But no county is feeling the effects of population decline quite like Los Angeles County. From July 2021 to July 2022, the nation’s most populous county saw its population shrink by more than 90,000 people — more than five times as much as the next closest county, San Mateo.
In L.A. County, there was still a net gain in “Natural Change;” there were 18,000 more births than deaths during that time frame. But 109,000 people moved out of Los Angeles County entirely in pursuit of greener pastures.
The more than 90,000 decline of residents in Los Angeles County was not only the largest decline in California, but it was also the largest decline in the country. But it’s not even in the top 10 biggest declines by percentage. A different California county saw the largest percent decline in the nation: Lassen County’s population declined by a whopping 6%.
While many regions saw declines, other parts of the state saw an increase in new residents. No county saw the arrival of new residents to the extent that Riverside County did. More than 15,000 people moved to Riverside County from 2021 to 2022 and there were 5,685 more births than deaths contributing to a population increase of more than 20,000. The second largest population increase happened in Yolo County.
Below is the complete list of population change for each county in California.
Annual Change: July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022
|County||Total Population Change||Natural Change |
|Santa Barbara County||6,403||1,950||4,266|
|San Joaquin County||5,089||2,870||2,646|
|Santa Cruz County||3,875||341||3,286|
|San Luis Obispo County||2,715||-118||2,721|
|San Diego County||1,254||12,696||-9,604|
|San Benito County||904||364||533|
|San Bernardino County||774||7,943||-6,486|
|Del Norte County||-471||-94||-393|
|El Dorado County||-944||-249||-643|
|San Francisco County||-2,816||1,474||-3,867|
|Contra Costa County||-6,332||3,190||-9,800|
|San Mateo County||-9,879||2,685||-13,011|
|Santa Clara County||-15,650||8,384||-24,913|
|Los Angeles County||-90,704||18,288||-109,018|
In total, an estimated 343,000 Californians left the Golden State to move to another state. But more than 125,000 people from other nations moved stateside to take their place.
And while California saw the largest total number of people leaving the state, it wasn’t the state with the highest percentage decline. That distinction belongs to New York, which saw a population decline of .91%.
New York, Illinois, Louisiana, West Virginia, Hawaii, Oregon, Mississippi and Pennsylvania all experienced larger percentage decreases in population. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, saw an even larger percentage decrease. The island’s population dropped by 1.25%, driven by more deaths than births, Census data indicates.
Florida, South Carolina, Idaho, Texas and South Dakota saw the largest percentage increase in population.