State population nears 37.7M, but growth is slow


California's population grew less than 1 percent in 2011, as it did the year before, but the growth rate still was equivalent to adding a city roughly the size of Irvine.

The nation's second most populous state, Texas, grew at a rate of 2.1 percent, to nearly 25.7 million, according to U.S. Census figures.

The slow growth in California is reflected in the housing industry, which has been in a slump since the recession began in late 2007. Finance department demographers say the state added 35,500 residential units in 2011, compared to 198,000 units during the peak year of 2005.

In 2011, less than 17,000 were single-family homes, a decline of 5,700 from the year before.

Some of the steepest population drops were in Central Valley towns that are home to prisons where the number of inmates is declining. The state has begun implementing Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to send more lower-level convicts to county jails, which saves the state money and conforms to a federal court order to reduce the prison population.

Among the prison towns losing population from the previous year were Coalinga (-6.6 percent), Chowchilla (-5.1 percent), Wasco (-2.2 percent) and Delano (-2.1 percent).

By contrast, an expanding inmate population at the prison in Calipatria made the Imperial County city the fastest-growing in the state, at 4.2 percent over the previous year.

All the state's most populous cities posted gains, including Los Angeles, up half a percent to more than 3.8 million; San Diego up 0.9 percent to more than 1.3 million; San Jose up 1.5 percent to 971,372; San Francisco up half a percent to 812,538; and Fresno, up 1.5 percent to 505,000.

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