By Yeha Youm, University of Michigan
California has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Where it was once seen as the place to fully live out the American dream and live fairytale lives, recent statistics show otherwise. From 2000 to 2010, California had the slowest growth rate ever in its official history. 1.5 million more people left California for other states than moved in.
Obviously, California has not completely died out. There are still millions of people living out their busy lives on the West Coast. Not everyone is in economic distress. However, what makes this population slump different in California than in other states is the fact that its growth has been marked by periods of population explosions: there was the gold rush in the mid-1800s, Hollywood in the 1920s, and the aerospace boom after World War II. In the 1940s and 50s the state grew by 53% and 49%, respectively. During the Golden Rush, the growth rate was 310%.
Dowell Meyers, professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California, explains why he does not expect California’s population to go up anytime soon. He says, “If things go really bad in the Midwest, Southern California could be a beacon of hope. But in general, immigration has slowed down now and is not likely to turn upward.”
Others also suspect that California has lots its aesthetic appeal. It was once home to beautiful orchards and farms, but now due to its population growth, it has slowly started to look like any other suburb in America. Housing prices are also so high that people simply cannot afford to live there.
Despite whether this population slump is unfortunate or provides California a needed breather, Californians will have to adjust to their home state ever changing, be for the best or worst.