California's Out-of-State Population Hits 100-Year Low

Tuesday, 29 Nov 2011 10:27 AM

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The proportion of California's population that moved to California from out of state compared with native-born residents reached a 100-year low of about 20 percent in 2010, according to U.S. Census numbers.

The demographics of California today resemble those of 1900 more than of 1950: It is a mostly home-grown population whose future depends on the children of immigrants and their children, demographer William Frey told the Los Angeles Times.

"We used to say California, here we come," said Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "That now has flipped."

Experts point to various causes for the turnaround, most of them rooted in a flagging economy. But high housing prices — too high for many struggling Californians despite a burst housing bubble — still play a role.

Some analysts see a dark future in the loss of the demographic dynamism that has been the state's hallmark.

"A steady-state California is both a contradiction in terms and a recipe for decline," historian and author Mike Davis, who teaches writing at the University of California Riverside, told the Times.

Warehousing and other commerce in inland California produce relatively few jobs, while employment in Los Angeles County is increasingly concentrated in small, poorly capitalized service businesses that could collapse in a recession, Davis said.

"This is a totally different world from the days when the aerospace industry was the big engine," he said.

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