California’s population — and Monterey County’s — decreased last year, according to a finance analysis. | News

We generally think of the Census as the mechanism by which we track population change. But the California Department of Finance does its own population analysis for the purpose of calculating government disbursement of funds and planning.

The Department of Finance’s 2021 analysis, released on May 2, 2022, shows that California’s population decreased by 117,552 last year, a 0.3-percent decline. (That’s smaller than the decrease in 2020, when the population decreased by 0.59 percent.) The Department of Finance puts California’s population, as of Jan. 1, at 39,185,605 people.

Similarly, Monterey County’s population decreased by 0.5 percent to a total population of 433,716. Eight cities and the unincorporated county saw small declines in population numbers; Soledad reported no percentage change, with a decrease of just eight people.

Three cities in Monterey County reported increases: Marina, with 186 new residents (a 0.9-percent increase); Seaside, with 955 new residents (a 3.1-percent increase); and Greenfield, with 929 new residents, for a 5-percent increase.

Statewide, 361 cities lost population over 2021, while 118 gained population, and three (including Soledad) reported no change.

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Greenfield’s population growth corresponded to significant housing growth, with a 9.7-percent increase in new housing units, the third-highest such increase of any city in the state. (The highest growth happened in Paradise, which is recovering from the devastating Camp Fire in 2018 that razed the entire town.)

Greenfield registered a 5.7-percent increase in single-family homes, and a 26.7-percent increase in multi-family homes.

The Department of Finance report attributes the overall population decline to several factors, including Covid deaths and slowed immigration — last year’s positive immigration number (43,300) was still well below the average annual rate of 140,000 pre-pandemic.

“As Baby Boomers age, and fertility declines among younger cohorts, the continuing slowdown in natural increase — births minus deaths — underlies the plateauing of the state’s population growth,” the report states. “The addition of Covid-19-related deaths, federal policies restricting immigration, and an increase in domestic out-migration further affected population totals.”

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