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For the first time in its recorded history, California lost population in the most recent national census, according to state officials. The news comes days after the U.S. Census Bureau said the Golden State would lose a congressional seat in the House of Representatives for the first time because it grew more slowly than other states.
While still the nation’s most populous state and far ahead of Texas, Florida and New York, California’s population dropped by 182,000 from 2019 to 39.5 million in 2020, according to the state Department of Finance. It is the first yearly loss for the Golden State ever recorded, stalling a growth streak that dates to California’s joining the Union in 1850.
The state’s population has surged and slowed in the decades since it became a state, with notable increases in the 1950s and ’60s, and also during the technology boom of the 1980s and ’90s that put Silicon Valley on the map.
The state has gradually lost people to other states for years, according to an analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California.
In 2020, the state’s four most populated cities — Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco — dropped in population, losing a combined 88,000 residents.
In the Bay Area, between 2019 and 2020, San Francisco’s population dropped 1.7 percent, from 889,783 to 875,010. Oakland’s population grew 0.7 percent to 435,514. San Jose, the region’s largest city, dropped to 1,009,340 in 2020. Fremont, the Bay Area’s fourth largest city, grew by 12,000 people to reach 247,800.
The U.S. Census Bureau will release official 2020 population figures May 27.
California became the nation’s most populous state in 1963, when its then-population of 17 million overtook New York that year.