California Has a Population Problem – At a Minimum


There’s not much reason to expect more than a churn of mediocrity from the Los Angeles Times these days.

Too harsh?

Then consider this claim under an op-ed column with the headline "No, California doesn’t have a population crisis":

“California’s population story also varies by the types of migrants entering or leaving the state. When it comes to domestic migrants — people who move from one U.S. state to another — California lost 406,982 residents between 2021 and 2022. But it’s a different trajectory for international migrants who come from other countries. In that period, 90,314 more people arrived from abroad than the number of Californians who left the U.S.”

That string of data points came in the L.A. Times print edition of February 26, and you can check the whole thing here if you want to get full context. The piece was written by Irene Bloemraad, a University of California professor who serves as faculty director of the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative, along with Ethan Roubenoff, identified as a doctoral candidate in demography. It’s fair to presume that at least one of the four editors listed for the “Editorial Page/Opinion” section of the L.A. Times vetted the offering from the two academics.

The piece nevertheless reads like a disingenuous and botched attempt to twist data to counter news that California recently has––for the first time in its recorded history––been losing population. 

Here's the disingenuous part: The column cites the net loss of 406,982 residents of California from 2021 to 2022 owing to domestic migration—more people moving to other states than coming in—as a bogeyman to be debunked. Then it attempts to debunk the bogeyman by pointing out that the state saw 90,314 more individuals come to the state from abroad than the total number of California residents who “left the U.S.”

That, taken with the headline and other setups the authors concocted, is presented as reason enough to lay to rest any concerns about overall population loss.

Just not for anyone who insists on engaging reality and notices that the authors switched their point of reference in mid paragraph, going from a larger loss on domestic migration to the smaller gain of international immigration. There are numerous reasons to consider and value both categories, but make no mistake—the shift of 406,982 individuals from California to other states in the U.S. overwhelmed both the inflow of immigrants from abroad and the natural increase driven by birth rates throughout the state.

Read the rest of this piece at The Pulse on LinkedIn

Jerry Sullivan is National Managing Editor at The Real Deal. You can follow him @SullivanSaysSC

Image courtesy The Pulse.