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California's population dropped for the first time in the state's recorded history

CNN logo CNN 5/7/2021 By Cheri Mossburg, CNN
a flock of birds flying over a city: Los Angeles County lost population for the third straight year in a row, according to a new state report. © AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images Los Angeles County lost population for the third straight year in a row, according to a new state report.

California's population fell in 2020 for the first time since the state population estimates started being recorded due to Covid-19 deaths, a decline in immigration and a lower birth rate, according to the California Department of Finance.

Between January 2020 and January 2021, the state lost more than 182,000 residents, per population estimates and data released in a report by the department, bringing the total population to 39,466,855. That represents a 0.46% drop.

More than half of the decline -- a loss of about 100,000 residents -- was attributed to federal immigration restrictions, the report said, while deaths stemming from the Covid-19 pandemics accounted for the loss of about 51,000 residents, about 19% above the average death rate for the preceding three years.


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The remainder, a loss of about 24,000 residents, was credited to fewer births, a nationwide trend that has impacted California more than other states, according to the report.

Additionally, 2020 was the third consecutive year that Los Angeles County, the state's most populous, lost population. L.A. County dropped 0.3 percent in 2018 and 2019 and 0.9 percent in 2020.

However, population growth remains strong in the interior counties of the Sacramento Valley, the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, while coastal and northern counties saw population losses, according to the report.

The report comes on the heels of the release of data from the US Census, which found that while the state remains the nation's most populous, it will lose one of its 53 congressional seats for the first time.

However, the report indicated experts anticipated annual growth would resume this year.

"As pandemic-related deaths decline and with changes in federal policy, California is expected to return to a slightly positive annual growth when calendar year 2021 population estimates are released in May 2022," the report said.

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