Halfway through the new decade, California, widely seen as an irresistible force for the young and ambitious, is underperforming the state’s own demographic projections. Since 2010 the state’s population grew 5.3 percent from the 2010 census figure, 12 percent below the 6.1 percent increase projected by the California State Department of Finance. The population increased at below projected rates in all of the five metropolitan regions (combined statistical areas, or CSAs and metropolitan statistical areas MSAs, outside the CSAs) with more than 1,000,000 population, except in San Diego.
For the first time in more than a decade, Oakland Unified is opening a new public school in a bid to keep families from fleeing the district to attend charters they see as innovative or private schools they view as superior. The Oakland School of Language, or Oakland SOL, will be the district’s first dual-immersion middle school when it opens its doors to nearly 75 sixth-grade students Monday, offering academic subjects in Spanish and English. The school will phase in seventh and eighth grades over the next two years.
Average hourly wages are growing at a slightly slower pace over the past 12 months compared with the prior year, according to the Labor Department. Median weekly earnings are growing at a better rate, but gains have been subdued since the recession ended more than eight years ago.
Typically modest wage growth would point to remaining slack in the labor market. But that’s not the case, according to updated research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
“While higher-wage baby boomers have been retiring, lower-wage workers sidelined during the recession have been taking new full-time jobs,” paper authors Mary C. Daly, Bart Hobijn, and Benjamin Pyle wrote. “Together these two changes have held down measures of wage growth.”
The youth deficit also seems to be spreading to the post-millennial generation. Due, in part, to a dearth of new families, California’s new generation is actually shrinking the potential workforce. Between 2013 and 2025, the number of high school graduates in California is expected to fall by 5 percent, while Texas, Florida and North Carolina experience gains of near 10 percent or more. With a shrinking birthrate, as well as diminished immigration, the L.A. region could experience a continual decline in its workforce.
These trends should alarm employers and businesses who depend on growth in workers and consumers. A rapidly aging population, by its very nature, adds less to economic growth and innovation, while spending less on housing and consumer goods. Southern California politicians, seemingly more obsessed with sporting events and climate change than economic reality, need to address the fundamental housing and employment issues undermining our demographic future.
The pace of motherhood in California is slowing and its members are aging, a shift demographers expect to continue and contribute to far-reaching and uncertain changes in the decades to come.
Last year, the state reached a historic milestone: the lowest birth rate on record — 12.4 births per thousand people. That rate was 12.3 for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and a Southern California News Group analysis of state projections shows the region’s rate could fall another 24 percent by 2040.