SACRAMENTO, California: For the first time in 120 years, California's population declined last year.
The state lost 182,083 people during 2020, according to the California Department of Finance. At the end of 2020, California's population was 39.47 million.
Officials said the population decline was caused by increased deaths from Covid, less immigration, and fewer births.
However, California had been suffering from population problems before 2020, due to a multi-year decline in the birthrate and rising migration to other states.
In fact, more people have left California to settle in other states than have arrived for all but two of the last 30 years. Further, beginning in 2018, more people left the state than those arriving from other countries.
"We believe that we will be back to a positive [growth] rate" in 2021, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance. "Not a booming rate, to be sure, but a slightly positive rate," as quoted by the wall Street Journal.
California reported a 19 percent increase in its death rate last year, primarily due to Covid, according to the finance department. To date, 61,027 Californians have died of Covid-19.
Also, immigration to California fell in 2020. This was partly due to President Donald Trump's worker visa ban that began in March 2020 and other restrictions that were blamed for a 30 percent decline in international students studying in California.