California Population 2017


Our current estimate for California's population is nearly 39.5 million. At the last official United States census carried out in 2010, the population of California was declared at 37,253,956 which made the state the most populous in the country.

However, the vast area that California encompasses means that in terms of population density, with 251.3 people for every square mile, it ranks only 11th in the nation.

It is currently the 17th fastest growing state with a yearly growth rate of .90%.

Influences of California Population

California has a healthy natural growth rate and the gap between the birth rate and death rate is quite significant. Between 2000 and 2009, 5,058,440 births and 2,179,958 deaths resulted in a natural growth of 3,090,016.

Another significant factor is immigration: California had huge appeal in the days of the Gold Rush and that fact holds true today. Between those years of 2000 and 2009, the state enjoyed a net migration gain of 306,925 people. It’s also been estimated that up to approxmiately 6.3% of California’s population is made up of illegal aliens.

Putting population in perspective

The end result when taking all these figures into account is a population that is simply huge. Based on current estimates, California is larger than all but 34 countries in the world. It is also the second most populous national sub-entity, behind only Sao Paulo of Brazil.

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California Population Chart

California Population Growth

The population of California in 2016 is growing at an above-average rate and an estimate carried out in 2015 suggests that there has been an increase from the 2010 Census figure of 37,253,956 to numbers in the region of 39,144,818.

In 1850 there were just 92,597 people living in California, but the gold rush of the mid-19th century was primarily responsible for a rise of over 300% to 379,994. The population of California continued to grow at a steadier rate but increases in excess of 50% between ten year censuses were not uncommon.

After World War II, the California population in 1950 was declared at 10,586,223, and it has been growing exponentially ever since. Ten years later in 1960, it was 15,717,204, and in 1970 that had grown to 19,953,134. From there, the numbers have been increasing at similar rates.

California has seen growth in every 10 year period of its history, and was officially determined to be most populous state at the 1970 Census, claiming the mantle from New York. It has remained the biggest state for nearly a half-century by posting consistenly high growth rates from year to year.

Population of California Projections

California is still growing and although it is difficult to track down any predictions, there is no reason to suggest that this growth will slow down. As such, could the population of California continue the trend and explode beyond the 40 million mark by the time of the next Census in 2020? If the current rate of growth continues, California's population may even approach 41 million by 2020.

Population Data via US Census

California Growth Rate

California State Rank

Year Pop % Change
2020 40,907,453 0.87%
2019 40,554,926 0.88%
2018 40,202,399 0.88%
2017 39,849,872 0.89%
2016 39,497,345 0.90%
2015 39,144,818 0.91%
2014 38,792,291 0.98%
2013 38,414,128 0.94%
2012 38,056,055 0.94%
2011 37,700,034 1.20%
2010 37,253,956 0.96%
2000 33,871,648 1.30%
1990 29,760,021 2.32%
1980 23,667,902 1.72%
1970 19,953,134 2.42%
1960 15,717,204 4.03%
1950 10,586,223 4.36%
1940 6,907,387 1.98%
1930 5,677,251 5.18%
1920 3,426,861 3.72%
1910 2,377,549 4.82%
1900 1,485,053 2.04%
1890 1,213,398 3.45%
1880 864,694 4.44%
1870 560,247 3.96%
1860 379,994 15.16%
1850 92,597 0.00%

California Facts

California Population in 2017 Source: BDS2006 (talk).

  • California has hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics and is the only state that is able to claim this achievement.
  • All of the banks in San Francisco survived the 1929 stock market crash.
  • The first McDonald's fast foodd restaurant was opened in San Bernardino, California, in 1940.
  • The world's largest landlocked harbor is the San Francisco Bay.
  • The hottest temperature on Earth was recorded at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley in 1913. The temperature was 134 derees Fahrenheit.
  • Over half of the acreage used to grow fruit in the United States is located in California, which is a leader in growing strawberries, grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines and other produce.
  • The tallest living tree -- which measures an astounding 379.1 feet -- is a redwood tree located in Redwood National Park.
  • California has a total of 58 counties.
  • Approximately 8% of Californians are vegetarians.

California Population Density by County

  • Population
  • Density
  • Growth Since 2010
  • State Rank
  • % of State

California Population Growth Rate by County

With so many counties, it's no surprise that California has seen significant increases and decreases in its population across the state. Between the 2010 Census and estimates taken in 2015, the largest increase in population in a California county was recorded in Alameda County, which grew by 8.22%. Many of its neighborin counties, including Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and San Francisco County were just a few that posted significant population gains. Other notable counties that saw growth during this 5-year period include the southern counties of Riverside, Orange, and San Diego, which posted rates of 7.21%, 5.03%, and 6.29%, respectively.

The counties that saw the biggest declines are located along the eastern border, with Lassen County seeing a decrease in population by 10.03%. Trailing behind are Plumas County, Modoc County, and Sierra County. Trinity County, located in northwestern California, also saw one of the highest declines with 5.05%.

Population Pyramid

To compare California to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage

Increasing immigration has led to a diverse set of ethnic groups within California itself and at the 2010 Census, 57.6% of the population claimed to be white, while 40.1% were non-Hispanic white. 13% were Asian and 6.2% Black. The remaining ethnic groups consisted of Native American, Hispanic, Latino and others. These numbers have changed significantly in 2016, with estmates putting 73.2% of the population as white, 38.5% as non-Hispanic white, 14.4% Asian, and 6.5% black.

In 2014, estimates showed that the Latino and Hispanic population surpassed the population of non-Hispanic Whites. According to those estimates, taken in June 2014, 14.99 million Latinos resided in the state, compared to 14.92 whites. California has the largest minority population and the largest Hispanic population in the country.

The most populous state is also one of the most racially diverse, boasting the largest population of whites in the US, the largest number of Native Americans, and the fifth largest population of African Americans. The Asian population, which is approaching 5 million, makes up about one-third of the nation's total Asian American population.

Languages Spoken in California

Language Population Percentage
Population 5 years and over 35,131,429 100
English 22,922,430 65.25
Spanish 10,105,385 28.76
Chinese 574,075 1.63
Cantonese 234,775 0.67
Mandarin 213,840 0.61
French 124,980 0.36
Panjabi 118,870 0.34
German 110,545 0.31
Portuguese 79,550 0.23

This chart shows the top 10 non-English languages that are spoken at home in California. The data comes from the most recent release of the American Community Survey (ACS).

California Economy

HighSchoolGraduate 82
BachelorsDegree 31
Disabled 7
NoHealthInsurance 14
LaborForceTotal 63
LaborForceFemale 57
FoodServiceSales 90,830,372
HealthCareRevenue 248,953,592
ManufacturerShipments 512,303,164
MerchantWholesalesSales 666,652,186
RetailSales 481,800,461
RetailSalesPerCapita 12,665
MeanWorkTravelTime 28
MedianHouseholdIncome 61,489
PerCapitaIncome 29,906
PovertyPercentage 16

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in California for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 6.2% and the labor force participation rate is 63.6%.

California Business

NonemployerEstablishments 3,117,591
AllFirms 3,548,449
MenOwnedFirms 1,852,580
WomenOwnedFirms 1,320,085
MinorityOwnedFirms 1,619,857
NonminorityOwnedFirms 1,819,107
VeteranOwnedFirms 252,377
NonveteranOwn 3,176,341

California Housing

HousingUnits 13,987,625
HousingUnits 13,680,081
OwnerOccupiedRate 55
OwnerOccupiedMedianValue 371,400
MonthlyOwnerCostsMortage 2,214
MonthlyOwnerCostsNoMortage 493
MedianGrossRent 1,243
BuildingPermits 98,188
Households 12,617,280
PersonsPerHousehold 3
SameHouseOneYearAgo 85
NonEnglishAtHome 44
Data Sources
  1. Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  2. Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  3. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  4. Census QuickFacts