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It could take California until 2030 to fully recover from its population exodus


Daily Caller News Foundation

California is slowly regaining the half million residents it has lost since the pandemic, but it could take the state until 2030 to fully return to pre-COVID population levels.

Between April 2020 and July 2022, roughly covering the COVID-19 pandemic, California lost approximately 500,000 people, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. During 2023, however, California gained about 67,000 residents, marking a 0.17% increase in the state’s population, according to a California Department of Finance report.

California’s population in January was still about 410,000 below what it was in April 2020, according to state and federal data. If California’s population continues to grow by 67,000 people per year for the foreseeable future, it will return to its April 2020 levels in about six years, or by roughly 2030.

The California Department of Finance, however, is not confident that the state’s population will continue to grow at the pace it did in 2023. “California is likely to experience slower but positive growth for the near future,” the agency’s population report reads.

California’s exodus has had a detrimental effect on its finances, with the state losing 158,000 taxpayers between 2020 and 2021, according to the Tax Foundation. The decline in state revenue is driving a projected $73 billion deficit in California during the 2024 fiscal year.

Cost of living is one of the most common reasons people cite when leaving the Golden State, with 45% of respondents to a 2023 Public Policy Institute of California poll saying that high housing costs had them seriously considering leaving the state. The median Californian home sale price in March 2024 was $816,800, according to Redfin.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, when running for governor in 2017, promised to help solve the state’s housing problems by increasing the number of housing units by 3.5 million by 2025. Newsom is far from fulfilling his promise, with an increase of just 589,626 units since he took office in 2019, according to the California Department of Finance.

While some Americans continue to leave California, many of the people moving into the state are foreigners.

“The state’s population growth can be attributed to an increase in legal foreign immigration and natural population increasing,” according to a press release the California Office of the Governor sent to the Daily Caller News Foundation. California experienced a net gain of 114,200 legal immigrants during 2023, according to the California Department of Finance.

Former President Donald Trump has pledged to tighten standards for legal immigration if he returns to the Oval Office, which could complicate California’s future growth.

“People from across the nation and the globe are coming to the Golden State to pursue the California Dream and experience the success of the world’s 5th largest economy,” Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said, touting the state’s 0.17% population increase.

America’s population on the whole grew 0.5% in 2023, with the south accounting for the vast majority of the nation’s population growth, according to the Census Bureau.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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