Don’t call it a boom.
The Sacramento region added more people in 2016 than during any other year since the housing market infamously overheated and collapsed a decade ago, according to estimates from the California Department of Finance. But growth rates remain far below levels seen during the housing boom.
About 2.3 million people lived in the Sacramento region on Jan. 1, 2017, up by 30,000, or 1.3 percent, from the previous year. In the early 2000s, the region’s population grew an average of 2.5 percent each year.
Jeff Michael, director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific, called current growth rates in the Sacramento region “sustainable and relatively healthy for the region.”
“It certainly helps economic growth,” Michael said. “The housing sector and service sector – they go hand in hand” with population growth.
Michael said growth regionwide is largely due to the improving economy. Bay Area residents trying to escape outrageous rents and mortgage payments also contributed to population gains.
Growth will “continue at about this point in 2018,” Michael added.
Placer County saw the highest rates of growth in the region last year, followed by Yolo and Sacramento counties. El Dorado continues to grow at a slow pace.
Most of the 10 largest cities in the region grew between 1 and 2 percent in 2016. Two places – Rancho Cordova and Rocklin – grew faster. Officials in both suburbs said they welcome the growth and have prepared for it.
Rocklin’s population grew by 4.5 percent in 2016, one of the fastest growth rates in the state. It’s a big number, but nowhere near the average growth rate of 8 percent the Placer County suburb saw in the early 2000s.
“Rocklin as a city is approaching buildout,” said Michael Young, a spokesman for the city. “There is not unlimited amounts of land we can continue to develop. We have to make sure we have the right mix of residents and businesses.”
Several of the best schools in the region sit in Rocklin, a key reason why families move there. Also, “We have a number of good employers, strong public services,” Young said.
Rancho Cordova grew by 2.2 percent last year, the highest growth rate in Sacramento County. City Manager Cyrus Abhar called the growth “healthy” and said new residents will be impressed by available services and amenities.
Rancho Cordova charges developers fees to ensure that infrastructure is in place to support new residents, Abhar said. City residents passed a half-cent sales tax measure a few years ago largely to enhance school programs and public safety. Rancho Cordova is also close to the urban core and affordable relative to several other suburbs.
“I see it is a very positive thing for the community,” Abhar said of the growth. “There is a very detailed master plan for this growth.”
How the Sacramento region’s 10 largest cities compare:
Source: California Department of Finance