By James Murphy
For the second straight year the State of California has declined in population, according to a report released Monday by the state’s Department of Finance. The report shows that the Golden State’s population dipped by 117,552 residents in 2021.
The California Department of Finance blamed the aging of the so-called Baby Boomer generation, Covid-19 deaths, and federal immigration policies for the decline of population in the state.
“As Baby Boomers age, and fertility declines among younger cohorts, the continuing slowdown in natural increase — births minus deaths — underlies the plateauing of the state’s population growth. The addition of COVID-19-related deaths, federal policies restricting immigration, and an increase in domestic out-migration further affected population totals. Overall growth was also affected by continuing federal delays in processing foreign migration: while last year saw positive immigration (43,300), the level was below the average annual rate of 140,000 before the pandemic,” a press release stated.
While those reasons may certainly contribute to California’s population decline, a Pew Research Center survey released in February cited financial reasons such as job loss or housing costs as the biggest reason for people leaving the state. 33 percent of respondents cited financial reasons as the main reason for leaving the state, compared to just 18 percent in the previous year.
Twelve percent of respondents also cited “too many COVID-19 restrictions where they were living” as a reason to leave.
Only two counties in the state reported any significant growth (above one percent) in the last year. Yolo County in the Greater Sacramento area reported a 1.8-percent increase, largely due to an increase in college dorm housing, and San Benito County located in the Coast Range Mountains near Monterey reported a 1.1-percent increase due to more housing availability.
Overall, 34 of the state’s counties lost population, most notably Plumas County in the Sierra Nevadas near Reno, Nevada, which lost 3.2 percent. Lassen County, in the northeastern portion of the state, and Butte County, in the north central region, both showed a 2.4-percent decrease.
California’s three biggest counties all experienced a decline in population: “The state’s three most populous counties all experienced population loss: Los Angeles declined by 70,114 persons (-0.7 percent), San Diego by 1,197 persons (-0.04 percent), and Orange by 7,297 persons (-0.2 percent),” the report stated.
California can blame Covid-19 and federal immigration policies if it wants to but a growing national trend tells a different story. People are escaping tax hells such as California and New York to go to states where the government is less onerous.
“New York lost 319,000 people since mid-2020, a decline of 1.58%, the most of any state. That’s primarily because many residents left New York for other states,” says another Pew Research report.
They’re leaving states such as California and New York for states where taxes are lower and freedom is valued — states such as Idaho, Utah, and Texas.
“At the other end of the spectrum, Idaho and Utah gained residents the fastest in 2021 as well as over the decade. In 2021 alone, Idaho grew by 2.88%, adding 53,000 people, and Utah’s population increased by 1.72%, with 56,000 new residents,” Pew states.
Besides strictly monetary concerns, people are leaving states such as New York and California for areas where they feel safer. While the overall population of places such as Los Angeles County is going down, the population of the homeless in the area — and the violent crime that follows — is going up. It’s going up so much, in fact, that the Los Angeles County Sheriff has asked the county to declare an emergency.
“Venice Beach, Olvera Street and Hollywood are currently under siege. The homeless situation and lawlessness citizens are experiencing is keeping tourists from coming to Los Angeles County,” L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva wrote in 2021. “The economic hardships our local business owners and residents are facing is unacceptable. The homeless situation in Los Angeles County is at a crisis level.”
Until California addresses its safety and financial concerns, the state can look forward to losing more of its best people. Absent a ballot-box reckoning where “wokeism” and the far-left policies of the state are reversed, soon the only people left in the Golden State will be either homeless or socialists — or both.