Bee Columnist Gets it Wrong on California’s Population Growth

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

February 24, 2014

In his February 5 post to the "Capitol Alert" blog in the Sacramento Bee, long-time political analyst Dan Walters wrote this suggesting that California’s population growth may finally be leveling off: “More recently, the birthrate has been falling, foreign immigration has slowed to a trickle and the state loses more people to other states than it gains.”

But the facts presented by the California Department of Finance and the Public Policy Institute of California paint a different and frightening picture. The DOF projects that California’s population will pass the 50 million mark in 2049 and increase to nearly 52.7 million by 2060.

This enormous population growth, nearly 15.4 million between 2010 and 2060, would exceed the current populations of either Illinois or Pennsylvania, and would represent enough new residents to currently rank as the nation’s fifth largest state. The 2060 population will be 39 percent higher than the state’s most recent 2012 estimate.

In its report which reached similar alarming conclusions, the PPIC calculates that between 2005 and 2025, California’s population will have increased from 37 million to between 44 and 48 million people. PPIC identifies natural population growth (births minus deaths) and immigration as the two driving factors.

As California enters into what many expect will be a sustained drought, accuracy in population reporting is essential to raise awareness among the uninformed. After all, every one of those millions will rely on water for drinking, bathing and cleaning. Without much more rain and snow, severe rationing may be required so that all Californians will get enough water to meet their basic needs.


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