Sacramento, California. (AP) – In 1962, when California’s population was more than 17 million, Gov. Pat Brown of New York celebrated the state by declaring a state holiday. In the coming days, when the US Census Bureau is expected to release the state’s latest head count, there will probably be no celebration.
Over the past decade, California’s average annual population growth rate has dropped to 0.06% – at least any time since 1900. The state faces the prospect of losing a US House seat for the first time in its history, while political rivals Texas and Florida include more residents and people with political clout.
Californians have long opened their eyes to stories of the state’s impending demise, and experts say the slow pace is not unexpected. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the new census number marks a moment for a state that has long lived in the American imagination as a land of boundless opportunity. This leaves policy makers and leaders a California that is barely growing and whether it is also a problem to solve.
DJ Valdi, a cultural historian, said, “You could say that California is a state, but it is also a state of mind, it is a collection of ideas and images and frankly, there are some unrealistic dreams as well.” Southern California. “So this moment, this 2020 census moment, relieves our need to talk realistically about California.”
The reality behind slow growth is not complicated. Experts point to three major factors: the decline in birth rates; A long-term trend of fewer people coming from other states than leaving; And a decline in international immigration, particularly from Asia, for people moving to other states.
The decline in immigration has been particularly sharp over the last half decade as President Donald Trump’s administration has steadily reduced the number of people entering the United States legally.
But the meaning behind the recession is controversial. Although many factors are beyond the control of the state, critics of the Democrats’ Decadong reign in Sacramento often point to steady growth as a result of liberal policies.
“How could this not be, at some level, a sign of what the Democratic Party has done in these past several years?” Lanhe Chen, a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, who has worked on Republican presidential campaigns. “The situation we are seeing cannot be divorced from the decisions that have been made.”
California is under a yearlong housing crisis as the building fails to keep up with demand, forcing more people on the streets and making home ownership inaccessible to many. The state has the highest poverty rate in the country when housing is taken into consideration. Its water resources are continuously taxed, and the state has spent more than half of the last decade in drought. More people move to the suburbs as freeways jam, and the deteriorating forests are destroying homes and communities.
Former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said, “We are pushing against borders. The state’s population is increasing available resources.” “Saying that they cannot be exceeded, but it would make very different arrangements.”
But Younger Brown, whose governor-father celebrated the 1960s boom, is one of those who see the new census almost as a coming-of-age era for the state. Development is not sustainable forever, he said, becoming philosophical, and the state is learning to manage its population.
“Development is not endless, just as our lives are not endless, there is always a scale,” he said.
“Homeostasis is a good thing. No stagnation, no paralysis, no death. But a dynamic life, where the variables are kept in some sort of equilibrium, is healthy, ”he said.
It is possible that California will hold 53 seats in the US House, as it did after the 2010 census. If it does, it is probably because state leaders spent about $ 200 million on the census, trying to count residents and ensure that the state gets its allocation of federal money on a tally basis. Even with 52 seats, it will have more seats than any other state so far, and it is the nation’s most populous by significant measure, with about 40 million people compared to Texas’ nearly 30 million. The state remains.
If California loses a seat, it will join the ranks of states with population power centers such as Illinois and New York, but also smaller ones, including Rhode Island and West Virginia.
The states of Arizona, Colorado and Florida are also expected to gain seats. Texas is expected to achieve as many as three, an undeniable fact for some of California’s policymakers.
Texas has long tried to woo California residents and businesses and saw some high-profile wins last year when tech giant Oracle was among those announcing that Silicon Valley was heading to Austin. .
“If someone works to portray California’s image as a Golden State, it’s going to be Texas. It has been Texas, ”said Sherry Babich Jeff, a professor of public policy communications at the University of Southern California. “And now they can gesture and say,” See, ”
Competition aside, the loss of a House seat should be a time “to make an honest assessment of the state,” said Calle Suarez, an assistant professor of history at California State University-Los Angeles.
Since the days of the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, the idea of a “California dream” is accessible to only a few people and may feel even farther for many, she said. Skeptical of renewable energy, building clean technology and finding climate-friendly ways to sustain California’s population could form the basis for another boom, she said.
“There are a lot of talented people in California who can stop us from thinking about this,” she said.
Whether California loses a seat, it is certain that the period of slow growth is a new chapter in the state’s story. Although many are likely to present their political views about the state, cultural historian, Valdi said, California’s reality has always been more complex than its defenders and convicts.
“California was never as golden as the dreamers made it and it was never as difficult as the people who complain about California make it out.”