Bay Area Growth Slowing

New 2010 Census data indicates that the two major metropolitan areas in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco and San Jose, have settled into a pattern of slow growth.

San Francisco: The San Francisco metropolitan area grew 5.1 percent between 2000 and 2010, a more than one-half drop from the 1990 to 2000 rate of 11.9 percent, from 4,124,000 to 4,335,000, for a gain of 211,000. Only in one decade (1970 to 1980) have the five counties of the metropolitan area gained at such a slow percentage rate.

The historical core municipalities of San Francisco and Oakland gained 20,000 residents, from 1,176,000 to 1,196,000. San Francisco reached a population of 805,000, up from 777,000 in 2000. As in the case of both the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, the State Department of Finance estimate (857,000) was well above the Census Bureau population count (We had previously questioned the aggressive population projections released by the State Department of Finance in an Orange County Register op-ed,  60 Million Californians: Don't Bet on It). Even with this increase, however, the city of San Francisco remains below its population peak of 827,000, recorded in a 1945 special census, according to the Census Bureau.

The city of Oakland declined in population from 399,000 to 391,000. The historical core municipalities grew 1.7 percent, compared to the 6.5 percent growth rate of the suburbs. The historical core municipalities captured nine percent of the metropolitan area growth, with 91 percent of the growth going to the suburbs. The State Department of Finance estimate, at 430,000, was more than 10 percent above the actual Census Bureau count. The city of Oakland also reached its population peak of 401,000 in a 1945 special census.

While San Francisco remains the second largest metropolitan area in the state (after Los Angeles), this distinction could soon be lost. Riverside-San Bernardino registered a population of 4,225,000 and at growth rates of the last decade, would pass San Francisco by 2012.

San Jose: The San Jose metropolitan area grew 5.8 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 1,736,000 to 1,837,000. The historical core municipality of San Jose rose 5.0 percent, from 901,000 in 2000 to 946,000 in 2010. San Jose captured 44 percent of the metropolitan area growth, the highest figure among the reporting metropolitan areas except for the largely suburban historic municipality of Oklahoma City (47 percent). The State Department of Finance had estimated the city of San Jose population at 1,023,000 in 2010, indicating that its growth estimate for the decade was more than 2.5 times the increase indicated in the census count.

The suburbs of the San Jose metropolitan area grew 6.7 percent and accounted for 56 percent of the population growth.