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California reports first population decline, after year of COVID lockdowns

State lost nearly 200k residents.

Updated: May 8, 2021 - 1:44pm

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California is reporting 2020 census data shows the first population decline in state history – with such factors as rising housing costs, a dip in birth rates and the coronavirus and strict, related lockdowns being cited as causes. 

The state’s population fell by roughly 182,000 residents, a reduction of about 0.5%. California was among the states that lost a congressional seat in the latest census assessment due to its population woes. 

The news follows more than a year of strict COVID-19 lockdowns and mitigation measures put in place by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election in large part due to voter disaffection with his management over the past year. 

The Newsom administration says California's population decline is an outlier, blaming it on the coronavirus pandemic, according to CBS News.

Public Policy Institute of California fellow Eric McGhee told the Sacramento Bee the state’s high cost of living was also to blame. 

"The housing is really expensive here," he told the paper. "It means that a lot of people end up moving out of the state because they can’t afford to live here."