California’s population is now less than 39.5 million, which marks the first time in recorded history that the state’s population has declined.
The state lost 182,083 people last year, a loss that followed several years of minor population gains. While the pandemic and unemployment played a role, the decline reflected recent trends that have already cost California a seat in Congress.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the California exodus, and rightly so,” wrote Hans Johnson, senior researcher at the Public Policy Institute in California, in a recent report. “This migration, over decades, has the power to reshape the state.”
California’s population is actually up from the last census, increasing by 2 million. But its growth rate was slower than the national average.