California Population Lags Behind Projections

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.

This article compares the 2016 US Census Bureau population estimates of areas within California to the corresponding projections by the California State Department of Finance (DOF). The Census Bureau estimates are for July 1, 2016 and the Department of Finance projections are for January 1. As a result, the Census Bureau estimates are compared to the average of the California 2016 and 2017 projections. Moreover, the Census Bureau estimates are used because of their more authoritative nature. DOF calibrates its estimates to those of the Census Bureau at each 10 year national census. It is important to recognize that projections are just that — forecasts that can be significantly off even when demographers take the greatest caution to achieve accuracy.

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