Friday, December 12, 2014

People Needing People

A few years ago after the 2010 Census, I put together the chart above on California's population past and projected (by the Census Bureau) into the future.  As can be seen, the trend was up but the big spurt in relative growth occurred between 1940 and 1990, essentially World War II and the end of the Cold War.  The long-term projection is essentially for growth at about the national pace, maybe a little less.  Lots of things can happen between now and 2050 so don't put great weight on the details as we go out in time.

However, the general slow pace was confirmed by a recent media release of the California Dept. of Finance.* The chart below shows the pace of population growth in the state for the last few fiscal years. [Click to enlarge.] As can be seen, there are roughly 500,000 births a year, 250,000 deaths, so a natural increase of about 250,000.  Beyond that natural increase, there is net positive in-migration composed of positive migration from abroad and net out-migration of Californians to other parts of the U.S.  The most recent year show indicates that the economic recovery has reduced, but not ended, net out-migration of Californians to the rest of the country.

In the rapid growth period of 1940-1990, budget pressures - although there were bumps in the road - were eased by new folks arriving from both abroad and the rest of the U.S. who contributed tax revenue into the state treasury (and to local governments).  The Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960 comes in the midst of that era.  It is not an accident that California ran into chronic budget difficulties around 1990, albeit difficulties that were temporarily lifted at the peaks of the dot-com and housing booms.  Whether California has now adapted to a "new normal" of average growth is still unknown.  Even in the current fiscal lull, which may or may not be temporary, the immediate political reaction to UC's tuition-or-state-funding budget proposal suggests that at best the adapting process is only partly accomplished.  In any case, what the eventual response is to the proposal will be an indicator of what kind of adaptation has been made.

In any event, despite the song, people needing people (in California) may not be the luckiest people in the world.


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