COVID Deaths, Fewer Immigrants Caused California’s Population to Drop in 2020

Diverse crown on the Oceanside Pier
A crowd on the Oceanside Pier. REUTERS/Mike Blake

California’s population declined by 182,083 people, or 0.5%, in 2020, bringing the Golden State’s estimated total to 39,466,855 people as of Jan. 1.

The new population number from the California Department of Finance marks the first annual decline since the state began producing population estimates.

Officials cited three major factors: approximately 24,000 fewer births, 100,000 fewer immigrants and 51,000 more deaths due to COVID-19.

The falling birthrate mirrors national and worldwide trends, while the Trump administration’s hard-line policies reduced immigration. But the COVID deaths were unexpected.

“The COVID-19 pandemic increased California deaths in 2020 by 51,000 — 19% above the average death rate for the three preceding years,” according to the report.

Times of San Diego