L.A. County Population Grew Only 0.7 Percent Last Year -- And Yes, 'It's A Job Thing'

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Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 11:06 AM

click to enlarge Where have all the people gone? - TOM BAKER
  • Tom Baker
  • Where have all the people gone?
Population statistics for all the economically bleeding counties of California were released yesterday by the state Department of Finance, and guess what they show:

Sure enough, it's been another hard year for the state, whose total number of residents grew less than 1 percent from June 2009 to June 2010.

Ouch. L.A. County's numbers are even worse:

There are only 0.71 percent more Angelenos in the county than last year. That's up from the year before -- a meager 0.55 percent -- but way down from population surges earlier in the decade. (California, as well, saw a smidgen more growth than last year, when it was at a low of 0.84 percent.)

The LA Daily News remembers the boom before the downturn:

Because of those still-strong immigration rates early in the past decade, California's population shot up by 13.88 percent between 2000 and 2010. The state gained 4.7 million people, the equivalent of the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco combined.

Why such a crap year for preserving the California race?

Mary Heim, director of demographic research for the department, says it's definitely "a jobs thing." Unemployment has hit California third hardest of all the states in the nation; meanwhile, lenders are cautious and rent is ridiculous as usual.

She says construction jobs, in particular, have been far more scarce. Perhaps this is a good time to remember that one in every two Angelenos is Latino?

To put the Los Angeles-specific stagnance in context, the Daily News notes the greater population growth of surrounding counties. They're all significantly higher:

Riverside County: 1.58 percent

Kern County: 1.28 percent

San Bernardino County: 0.96 percent

Ventura County: 0.92 percent

Orange County: 0.89 percent

The state's other big-city basins also did much better. San Diego County gained 0.95 percent, while San Francisco County gained 0.94 percent.

Heim explains: "When you have a big base population like Los Angeles, it's harder to see a change," she says. (10-million-plus pride!) Also, "L.A. tends to lose domestic migrants to other parts of California ... and immigrants that tend to come into L.A. County when they first arrive move out to suburban counties as they assimilate."

Still, net domestic migration (U.S. citizens moving out of L.A.) has steadily declined from last year. Heim says this, too, can be blamed on the recession.

"I think that what's happening is, as the economy has gotten worse, less people are moving -- because moving has a lot of expenses, and unless you have a job or a place to stay, you can't afford it," she says.

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