The County Voice

California Counties: 38 Million Served and Counting

In recent years we began using the motto “California Counties: 38 Million Served” to show the magnitude of the task that our 58 counties face very day. And while the state’s official population was a bit under this figure, it’s safe to say that there are thousands of individuals who go uncounted – individuals to which counties provide a safety net. Despite some of the more analytical types here at CSAC claiming our slogan wasn’t precisely accurate according to official state population figures, we stuck with it.

Well, the Golden State’s population is quickly zeroing in on 38 million – at least according to the most recent population estimates released yesterday by the State Department of Finance.

As of January 1, California’s population stood at 37,966,471 – an increase of 297,667 over the previous year’s estimate. Where is this growth occurring? Suprisingly, the San Francisco Bay Area leads the state as the fastest growing region. Four out of five of the fastest growing counties (Yuba being the exception) are in the Bay Area. Santa Clara County was the fastest growing county in the state, with a 1.6 percent increase in the past year. It was followed by Alameda, San Mateo and San Francisco – all with growth rates topping 1 percent.

The Central Valley also continues to see population growth – no surprise there. Fresno, Kern, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare each had an increase a tick under 1 percent.

The Inland Empire – Riverside and San Bernardino Counties – saw a sizeable influx of new resident as well. Overall, they added 37,441 residents. As for the elephant in the room – Los Angeles County which is home to 26.2 percent of the entire state’s residents – it grew by nearly 69,000 people, a figure greater than the population of a third of our counties.

According to Finance estimates, 11 counties saw a drop in population, led by Lassen, which lost 1.8 percent of its residents during the year. Alpine County’s population decreasde by 0.1 percent – in terms of individuals, this mountain county saw its population drop by one person.

Why some counties grew and others saw their population drop is an analysis for those far wiser than this writer. Public safety realignment played some role in it, according to Finance, as cities that house state prisons, such as Imperial County’s Calipatria (down 11 percent) and Amador County’s Ione (down 5.9 percent) witnessed significant population declines. Yes, it is easier to count inmates than it is the homeless.

What’s it all mean? It means California’s 58 counties will continue to serve a growing number of residents – all 37,966,471 of them as of the first of the year. And at our current growth rate, we passed that elusive 38 million in mid-February.

California Counties: 38 Million Served!

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