California will gain more than 4.3 million people over the next decade – an 11.5 percent increase but 2.5 million people short of pre-recession projections, according to the state's latest analysis.
Nearly 41.7 million people will live in the state in July 2020, the Department of Finance said in interim population projections released Wednesday. The projections update 2007 figures and incorporate 2010 U.S. Census data.
"Our basic assumptions in that previous set of projections don't seem to be holding up after the recession hit," said John Malson, acting director of the department's Demographic Research Unit. "The effect of the economy on the population has been significant."
The projections are based on the current population, births, deaths and net migration. While foreign migration remains strong, domestic migration is "throwing a monkey wrench in all of this," Malson said. "If we base our projections on what is going on right now, it would show very little growth, in fact negative growth, from migration."
One exception is Riverside County. Over the next decade, the county is projected to gain 622,033 residents – the largest numerical increase in the state. Malson attributes the increase to migration from other parts of California, namely the Los Angeles Basin.
A recent UCLA Anderson Forecast spelled out a different future for the Inland Empire: Hit hard by the housing bust, the area would continue to suffer as jobs and demand for multifamily housing grow along the state's coast.
Malson said that trend likely would hold true for the next few years. But when people start shopping for homes again, "those units are probably going to be the first ones snapped up," he said. "It's still more affordable than anything they can probably find along the coastal area. … That's how it's been historically."
The state still anticipates significant population growth in coastal counties in Southern California, as well as in the Central Valley and parts of greater Sacramento and the Bay Area. But of the largest percentage gains, none will be along the coast. By 2020, the largest percentage gain will be in Sutter County, which is predicted to have 130,803 residents – a 37.4 percent jump.
Sierra will be the only county in the state to lose residents, according to projections. The county of barely 3,200 residents will lose 4.8 percent of its population – 156 people – over the decade.