California’s population hit 39.1 million this year, the state Department of Finance reported Wednesday, with “natural increase” of births minus deaths providing most of the gain.
The state added 346,000 residents between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, the state’s demographers calculated, for a growth rate of 0.9 percent, which is in line with recent population patterns.
Immigration to California from other countries has slowed to a trickle in recent years and the state has often seen a net loss in state-to-state migration patterns, so immigration in all forms contributed just 84,000 of the year-to-year gain.
The department said that the new estimates also reflect improved data on domestic and foreign immigration, which added 226,000 persons to estimates from earlier in the decade.
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The bulk of growth in 2014-15 came from 507,000 births – almost one a minute – minus 262,000 deaths during the 12-month period. Births, once nearly 600,000 a year, have been declining in recent years while deaths are climbing as the large baby boom generation ages.
The calculation for 2014-15 brought California’s population growth since the 2010 census to 1.8 million, which indicates that the 2020 census should count about 41 million Californians.
San Joaquin County was the state’s fastest growing in 2014-15, seeing its population rise by 1.58 percent, followed by Monterey and Santa Clara counties. Fifteen rural counties saw population decreases during the year, topped by a 2.56 percent loss in Lassen County in the state’s northeastern corner.
Although Los Angeles County, with more than a quarter of the state’s population, grew more slowly than the state as a whole, it added the most raw population of any county, 68,686.
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