California Interior Growing Faster than Coast

Interesting story from New Geography.

 An excerpt.

A major shift took place in California’s population growth — which has fallen below the national average — over the past eight years. The latest Census Bureau population estimates (for July 1, 2018) show that growth has stalled in the coastal metropolitan areas. At the same time annual population growth rates have trended upward in the nearby interior areas. This article reports on these trends, dividing the state into three regions for analysis. The regions are as shown in Figure 1: “Growth Analysis Regions.” The 2018 regional populations are in Figure 2.

  • Coastal Metropolitan counties are from Sonoma County in the San Francisco Bay Area (Note) to San Diego County in the south. It also includes all of the adjacent inland counties of the San Francisco Bay area. South of the Bay area, the coastal metropolitan region includes only counties along the Pacific Coast, because counties are far larger in the South. Population growth rates in the Coastal Metropolitan counties had been dominant from the first post-World War II census (1950) to 2000, capturing nearly 70 percent of new California residents. Since the beginning of the millennium, they now account for less than one-half of state growth. This reflects the problems associated with an extraordinarily high cost of living, ranking within the costliest seven percent of US metropolitan areas, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities. This is driven by the severely unaffordable housing in these counties.
  • Interior counties include the “Inland Empire” (Riverside and San Bernardino counties), the San Joaquin Valley, stretching from Kern County (Bakersfield metropolitan area) to the Sacramento area and then the Sacramento Valley, which stretches northward to Shasta County (Redding metropolitan area). The interior counties had grown strongly between 1950 and 2000, but due to their comparatively small population base, they only accounted for less than 30 percent of statewide growth. After 2000, however, these counties have experienced more than one-half of numeric state growth and added more residents than the Coastal Metropolitan counties. All but two of the Interior metropolitan areas has a cost of living below the national average (Bakersfield, Chico, Fresno, Hanford, Madera, Merced, Modesto, Stockton, Visalia and Yuba City). Sacramento is slightly more expensive than average, while Riverside-San Bernardino is as expensive as the least expensive areas in the Coastal Metropolitan counties.
  • The Rest of the State includes all counties outside the Coastal Metropolitan region and the interior. The Rest of the State includes places many consider to be among the best places to live in the nation, such as the North Coast, the Sierra foothills, much of the most scenic mountain areas of the state, as well as Imperial County, in the southeastern corner of the state. These relatively remote, more rural counties have generally accounted for little of the state’s population growth.

Retrieved May 24, 2019 from


About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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