Terry McAteer: Despite what you hear, California growing by leaps and bounds
California will surpass the 40,000,000 resident mark this fall. This means that during my lifetime of 62 years, the Golden State will have tripled in size.
California is so big that you could combine 21 of our smallest populated states and the District of Columbia to equal our size. A factual look at California’s demographics will surprise many of you.
Despite reports of people fleeing due to high taxes and higher costs of living, California actually added 186,000 residents last year alone; these individuals were not solely illegal immigrants as some news reports seem to suggest. In fact, the state has over one million millionaires and more billionaires reside in San Francisco than any other city in the world.
There is no doubt that California is the most ethnically diverse state in the nation as 25% of all the nation’s immigrants reside here. This number is more than the entire population of Georgia at 11 million. 52% of these immigrants are naturalized citizens, 34% have some form of legal status and 14% are undocumented.
While over four million of our foreign born residents are from Latin America (primarily Mexico) large numbers include: one million from China, one million from the Philippines and 600,000 from India. These numbers indicate that 56% of Californians were born here, 28% were born in a foreign country and 16% were born in another state.
The high cost of housing, surprisingly, has not deterred many from relocating to California, especially those with high academic attainment levels. An interesting statistic is that over the past five years California has added over 162,000 residents with post-graduate degrees. Conversely, the trend of those leaving the state is highly focused on poorer and less educated people fleeing to lower cost states such as Nevada and Texas.
In fact, per capita, California is dead last in all 50 states with a percentage of people leaving for another state. Those that have left, to no surprise, have left for Texas, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Colorado.
Similar to the nation in general, California is experiencing a graying tidal wave. Today, six million Californians are 65 years of age or older, while in 10 short years the Golden State will add 50% more seniors to that figure. Despite the perception of seniors fleeing the state, less than 1% (20,000) left California last year.
Also similar to the nation as a whole, the birth rate in California has continued to decline to its lowest level in the past 100 years. Only 12 births per 1,000 residents occurred last year which is less than one half of the figure during the height of the 1950s “baby boom.”
California, it seems, remains as attractive to many as it did in 1849. Those that came here to seek their fortunes in mining now come to our state for economic opportunity in the arts, technology, agriculture, recreation and our “laid-back” lifestyle.
With California’s $2.9 trillion economy — the 5th largest economy in the world — despite higher taxes, higher cost of living and changing demographics the Golden State appears headed for continued growth and prosperity.
Terry McAteer is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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