More people reside in California than any other state, but data released on Friday indicates more folks left in 2020 to live in other places than moved there, resulting in the population shrinking for the first time in the Golden State’s recorded history.
The Associated Press reported, “California’s population fell by more than 182,000 last year, the first yearly loss ever recorded for the nation’s most populous state, a growth streak that dated to its founding in 1850 on the heels of a gold rush that prompted a flood of people to seek their fortune in the West.”
With approximately 39.5 million residents remaining, California is still America’s most populated state, but news of the overall decline comes after the 2020 census numbers released last week showed California would lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives following reapportionment, dropping its delegation from 53 to 52 members while states like Texas and Florida gained representatives.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “State Department of Finance officials attributed the one-year loss on a declining birth rate, reductions in immigration and an increase in deaths because of the coronavirus, which killed 51,000 people last year.” Still, many Republicans have blamed California’s high cost of living and cite an overall declining quality of life, problems they say are exacerbated by the state’s progressive politics. The AP reported, “The average sale price of a single-family home in California hit a record $758,990 in March, a 23.9% increase from a year ago.”
GOP candidates hoping to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a potential recall election used the declining population numbers to solicit support for that effort.
“The numbers don’t lie,” tweeted Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego and first Republican to announce he would enter the expected race to replace Newsom. “People are leaving our state because it’s not affordable to live here. One party rule has made it almost impossible to raise a family. It’s time for real change.”
The numbers don’t lie. People are leaving our state because it’s not affordable to live here. One party rule has made it almost impossible to raise a family.
It's time for change. https://t.co/WiX0wy0bw4
— Kevin Faulconer (@Kevin_Faulconer) May 7, 2021
Republican John Cox, who lost to Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial election, has also declared himself a recall candidate.
“State officials like pretty boy @GavinNewsom should look in the mirror,” Cox tweeted on Friday. “They are driving thousands of families from California.”
State officials like pretty boy @GavinNewsom should look in the mirror. They are driving thousands of families from California. We need beastly changes NOW. #CAgov #RecallNewsom https://t.co/jqjJ1WulYN
— John Cox (@BeastJohnCox) May 7, 2021
Earlier this week, before the new numbers were announced, Caitlyn Jenner, another Republican who has announced a run for governor, had appeared on the Sean Hannity show on FOX News and revealed, “My friends are leaving California.”
Recounting a conversation with a frustrated Californian, Jenner told Hannity: “Actually my hangar, the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he says ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona, I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.’ I don’t want to leave. Either I stay and fight, or I get out of here.”
More from the AP:
California has been steadily losing people to other states for years. From 2010 to 2020, about 6.1 million people left for other states and only 4.9 million arrived from other parts of the country, according to an analysis of census data by the Public Policy Institute of California.
But the influx of international immigrants and births outpacing deaths have always been enough to overcome that loss. That changed in 2020.
In a normal year, California might have between 140,000 and 150,000 people move in from other countries. In 2020, it was just 29,000 people — a direct impact, state officials say, of the Trump administration halting new visas for much of the year.
Global lockdowns because of the coronavirus prompted a 29% decline in international students coming to California, or about 53,000 people.
Births continued their steady decline, mirroring a national trend. But deaths soared as the coronavirus killed 51,000 people in California last year, accounting for a 19% increase of the state’s death rate compared to the previous three-year average.
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