California's unemployment rate is at a record low 3.9% — reflecting a 117-month job expansion not seen since shortly after World War II. Through November, California was issuing building permits for 112,000 new housing units a month, down from an average of 121,000 through the same time period in 2018.
Meanwhile, California's homeless population has continued to swell, jumping 16.4% in January according to surveys approved by the federal government.
The migration loss has been a boon to other states, particularly Nevada. Last month, it passed the 3 million population mark as the U.S. Census Bureau ranked it as the fastest-growing state in 2018 — mostly because of Californians moving in.
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said there are now more adults in Nevada who were born in California than native Nevadans.
California's population nearly tripled in the last half of the 20th century, transforming the state into what is now the world's fifth-largest economy. It remains by far the most populous state in the country, with second-place Texas still shy of 30 million people.
Yet, California's growth has leveled off. It's 0.35% growth rate for the 12 months ending July 1 is down from a 0.57% rate for the prior 12 months, the two slowest growth rates in recorded history.
State officials blamed the declining rate on an aging population combined with lower migration from foreign countries and more people leaving the state. Births continued to decline, falling by more than 9,000.
“I'm starting to get a sense that this is a trend,” Hunsinger said. "I wouldn't say it's concerning. ... We have a larger share of the population that is 50-plus, and so with that we see this sort of general tendency toward slower population growth.”
Los Angeles County lost 9,698 people, but remains the most populous county in the state — and the nation — at more than 10.2 million people.
Butte County lost 10,388 people, the largest percentage decrease in the state — a testament to the lingering effects of the 2018 Camp Fire in the town of Paradise that killed 85 people, destroyed more than 14,600 housing units and displaced an estimated 35,700 people.
Official state estimates predict California will hit 50 million people by 2055, at which point, the state would join Japan and European countries as having more deaths than births.