SACRAMENTO (AP) — California’s population grew less than 1 percent in the last fiscal year, one of the lowest rates on record but up slightly from the year before as fewer people moved to other states, according to demographic figures released Thursday.
The state Department of Finance reported that California added 350,000 new residents from July 2009 to July 2010, putting the state’s total population at 38.8 million.
Most of the population growth is due to births in the state. California gained more than 138,000 foreign immigrants and saw 72,000 people leave for other states.
It’s the sixth straight year that California has lost people to other states.
During the last century, California’s growth rate has only dipped below 1 percent on five occasions: the last two years and the years from 1994 to 1996.
But fewer people moved out of California this year than the year before, most likely because the economy is hurting elsewhere, too, said Mary Heim, chief of the California’s demographic research unit.
“Things are not good any place,” Heim said. “Moving is an expensive proposition, so I think people are just settling in.”
That’s common during an economic slowdown, when people are unsure where to go to improve their lot, said Dowell Myers, professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California.
California’s nine largest counties are home to 70 percent of the state’s residents.
More than half the population growth in this last year was in the Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Orange and San Bernardino.
Riverside County experienced the highest growth rate of 1.58 percent. Sierra County had the biggest loss of 0.9 percent.
The state’s population grew 0.84 percent between July 2008 and July 2009.
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