SLO County population in decline, California headed for the same


San Luis Obispo County’s population declined over the last fiscal year, while statewide growth fell to a record low rate, as California is on the verge of a population decline.

Between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020, San Luis Obispo County’s population fell by 1,125, or .41 percent, from 277,276 to 276,151, according to preliminary data released this week by the state Department of Finance. 

The last fiscal year marked the second consecutive 12-month period of population decline in SLO County. Between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019, SLO County’s population decreased by approximately .3 percent.

SLO County’s trend is consistent with coastal counties in California, most which declined in population over the last fiscal year. Neighboring Santa Barbara and Monterey counties both experienced population decline in 2019-2020 after having growth in 2018-2019. 

Statewide, California’s population grew by a measly .05 percent over the last fiscal year, a record low growth rate since 1900. In 2018-2019, the state’s population grew by .23 percent.

California only gained 21,200 residents in 2019-2020. As of July 1, 2020, California has a population of 39.78 million.

The state Department of Finance cites a lower birth rate, higher death rate, the coronavirus pandemic, less immigration and more residents leaving California as reasons for the decline in population growth. The coronavirus pandemic is also viewed as having factored into the other reasons for low population growth, even though statistics only reflect July 2019-June 2020.

In 2019-2020, California lost 135,400 residents as a result of net migration, as international immigration became more difficult and a rising number of residents left the state many because of the rising costs of living and operating businesses. 

Among California’s 10 largest counties, only Fresno, Riverside and Sacramento counties recorded population growth from net migration. As a whole, inland counties grew at a faster rate than coastal counties over the last fiscal year.