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Sacramento generates a realistic California population forecast after all!

Within my previous essay, I developed a California population forecast given that Sacramento's population forecast released in July 2021 seemed way too high.

Generating a realistic California population projection

I developed numerous California population scenarios by:

  1. using different percentiles of actual migration rates,
  2. using the Department of Finance Demographics Research Unit (DRU) natural growth projections, and
  3. using updated DRU population estimates up to early 2023. After a few iterations, I focused on two different scenarios: the 50th and 75th migration percentile rates.

My scenarios using the 50th and 75th migration percentile rates disclosed a huge divergence with the DRU July 2021 forecast.


My scenarios using migration rate percentiles suggested that from 2020 to 2060, California's population would remain pretty much flat or even experience a small decline compared to the present.

The DRU July 2021 forecast used unrealistic migration rates. See my earlier essay for further explanation on the subject.

To my surprise, the DRU did revise their forecast just a few days ago. And, now their forecast appears a lot more realistic. The graph below adds their revised forecast for July 2023.


See how the DRU July 2023 forecast just about perfectly matches my scenario using a migration rate at the 75th percentile level. Both projections indicate that California's population will be a bit lower in 2030 than it was in 2020. This is due to the COVID and Work From Home phenomenon that caused a rapid exodus out of California during the 2020 - 2023 period.

There is an enormous difference between the DRU forecast of July 2021 vs. July 2023.


The DRU July 2023 projections show a pretty flat population growth out to 2060. See how the 2060 estimate is a bit lower than the one in 2020. Also, notice how the 2030 estimate is also lower than the one in 2020. This has huge implications regarding Sacramento housing mandates that put pressure on counties and cities to develop millions of market-based housing units by 2030. Now that the DRU has updated its population forecast, it is time for the Sacramento housing authorities to revise their housing mandates downward.

Next, let's look at those projections at the county level for 2030, the most relevant forecast date related to Sacramento's housing mandates. Below, I disclose data for the State, the 17 largest counties, and Marin County.


Next, let's look at DRU's long-term forecast out to 2060 also at the State and county levels.


As shown above, the DRU July 2023 forecast is a lot more realistic than the July 2021 one. This is a really positive development that hopefully will lead Sacramento to revise its housing mandates downward.


demographics, California population, housing