Los Angeles, May 9 (IANS): California's population dipped by 182,083 residents last year, bringing the Golden State's total to 39,466,855 people as of January 1, 2021, representing the first 12-month decline since state population estimates were recorded in 1850.
According to new population estimates and housing data released on Friday by the state's Department of Finance, California's negative growth rate stood at -0.46 per cent, reports Xinhua news agency.
Three principal factors were listed as the main causes of this year-over-year population decrease, including continuing declines in natural increase, continuing declines in foreign immigration and deaths in 2020 separately associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The Covid-19 pandemic increased California deaths in 2020 by 51,000 -- 19 per cent above the average death rate for the three preceding years," the California Department of Finance said in a statement.
However, it predicted as pandemic-related deaths declined and the federal government's immigration policy was changed this year, the state's population would return to a slightly positive annual growth this year.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), with almost 40 million people, California is still the US' most populous state and its population is much larger than that of second-place Texas (29 million) and third-place Florida (22 million).
Between 1900 and 2000, California's population skyrocketed from fewer than 2 million people to 34 million, a growth rate that was much higher than that of the rest of the country.
Over the past 20 years, California had experienced its slowest rates of growth ever recorded and growth had been especially stagnant this decade, PPIC said, adding this decades-long trend was the consequence of fewer births, more deaths, a slowing of international migration, and a large migration out of California to other states.
But PPIC still estimated California's population was projected to reach 45 million people by 2050.
Friday's data came after the US Census Bureau's figure on its decade-long population counts released last week, which showed though California's population grew between 2010 and 2020, it did so at a slower rate than the rest of the country.
Based on slower growth reflected in the 2020 census, the state would lose a congressional seat for the first time.