San Luis Obispo, California Population 2019

San Luis Obispo is a city located in the state of California. It is located about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles in San Luis Obispo County. This city is one of the oldest in California, as it was founded in 1772. The city’s population according to recent estimates is 47,536.

San Luis Obispo History

The Chumash people were the original inhabitants of the area that is now San Luis Obispo. In the 18th century, Gaspar de Porola’s expedition entered the area. The name at the time was recorded as Canada de Los Osos. During the 1770s, missions were established throughout California, and it was decided that the area known as La Canada de Los Osos would become the fifth mission. In 1772, the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was built, and this would later become San Luis Obispo.

During its earliest history, the mission included a church, storerooms, barracks, the priests’ home, a mill, tannery and land for farming. After the Mexican War of Independence, there was a call for secularization of California’s missions, although this didn’t occur until the 1830s. In 1834, the mission became a parish, and the land holdings were broken into land grants known as ranchos. Despite the land grants, the community remained in the same place and is now the center of the modern city of San Luis Obispo.

When California was annexed to the U.S. following the Mexican-American War, San Luis Obispo was incorporated as a town and was the first town in San Luis Obispo County. The town quickly earned a reputation of violence because of the robberies and murders that occurred and became known as Tiger-Town.

The town’s economy was thriving in the 1850s as the price of beef rose after gold was discovered. Cattle was a primary driver of the economy until a drought occurred in the 1860s. At that point, more of a focus was put on mined goods, agriculture and dairies.

The city continued to grow with the construction of the Pacific Coast Railway and roads. Growth continued through the 20th century with the addition of many new homes, businesses, and other establishments, although many historic buildings remain intact today. The Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa has been restored and it is the city center, which is surrounded by shops, boutiques and restaurants. The city is very appealing to visitors and residents of all ages particularly for its outdoor activities including hiking, diving, sailing and surfing.

San Luis Obispo Population Demographics

San Luis Obispo has a current estimated population of over 47,000. The city’s total area is just over 13 square miles, and it has a population density of over 3,619 people per square mile.

The majority of the city’s population is white, making up 84.5% of the total population. Just over 1% of the population is black, 5.2% is Asian, 4.4% is other races and 4% are mixed race. Over 14% of the population is of Hispanic or Latino origin.

The largest group is people aged 18 to 24, which make up 34.7% of the population. Over 12% of the population is under the age of 18, while 12% are at least 65 years old. There are more males than females, with 110.2 men for every 100 women. About 26.6% of the population lives below the federal poverty line.

San Luis Obispo has a very diverse economy. Its top employer is California Polytechnic State University, which employs over 2,600 people. Other major employers include the County of San Luis Obispo, California Men’s Colony, Pacific Gas and Electric and the Cal Poly Corporation.

San Luis Obispo Population Growth

San Luis Obispo’s population has continually grown since it was first established. In 1880, the city’s population was over 2,000. This number had more than doubled to over 5,000 when the 1910 census was taken. By 1950, the population exceeded 14,000 and at the time of the next census, had grown to over 20,000.

The city’s population experienced growth in the double-digit percentages until 2000, when it slowed slightly. However, it is still continuing to grow at a steady and slow rate, with recent estimates showing that the population is up 5.3% since the last census was taken in 2010.

Year Population Growth Annual Growth Rate
201747,5411030.22%
201647,4383230.69%
201547,1155421.16%
201446,5732410.52%
201346,3325211.14%
201245,8114030.89%
201145,4082040.45%
201045,2041,0300.23%
200044,1742,2160.52%
199041,9587,7062.05%
198034,2526,2162.02%
197028,0367,5993.21%
196020,4376,2573.72%
195014,1805,2994.79%
19408,8816050.71%
19308,2762,3813.45%
19205,8957381.35%
19105,1572,1365.49%
19003,021260.09%
18902,9957522.93%
18802,2430.00%

San Luis Obispo Population in 2018Source: Basar [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

Population by Race

Race Population
White39,817
Asian2,609
Two or More Races1,687
Some Other Race1,629
Black or African American1,034
American Indian and Alaska Native221

Data via US Census (2017 ACS 5-Year Survey): Table B03002

San Luis Obispo Population Pyramid 2019

2,0004,0006,0008,000 Male Population2,0004,0006,0008,000 Female Population80757065605550454035302520151050

Data via US Census (2017 ACS 5-Year Survey): Table S0101

San Luis Obispo Median Age

26.5


Total

25.8


Male

27.3


Female

San Luis Obispo Adults

There are 40,969 adults, (5,790 of whom are seniors) in San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo Age Dependency

33.6

Age Dependency Ratio

16.5

Old Age Dependency Ratio

17.1

Child Dependency Ratio

San Luis Obispo Sex Ratio

Female

22,853

48.63%

Male

24,144

51.37%

San Luis Obispo Households and Families

San Luis Obispo Renter vs Owner Occupied by Household Type

Data via US Census (2017 ACS 5-Year Survey): Table S1101

San Luis Obispo Household Types

Type Owner Renter
Married66.6%33.4%
Female39.1%60.9%
All38.3%61.7%
Male30.5%69.5%
Non Family23.8%76.2%

38.3%

Rate of Home Ownership

San Luis Obispo Households by Type

Type Count Average Size Owned
All18,7282.4438.3
Non Family11,0772.0423.8
Married5,787366.6
Female1,2372.9939.1
Male6273.4130.5

2.93

Average Family Size

2.44

Average Household Size

6.3%

Unmarried (Opposite Sex)

0.3%

Unmarried (Same Sex)

San Luis Obispo Households

San Luis Obispo Education

San Luis Obispo Educational Attainment by Sex (over 25)

Education Attained Count Percentage
Less Than 9th Grade9373.82%
9th to 12th Grade8773.58%
High School Graduate2,97912.15%
Some College5,39221.99%
Associates Degree2,3069.40%
Bachelors Degree7,17729.27%
Graduate Degree4,85519.80%

San Luis Obispo Educational Attainment by Race

Name Total High School Bachelors
White18,75218,2719,950
Hispanic3,7002,700971
Asian1,2581,097817
Other Race822641202
Black46835777
Multiple Races426340213
Native American13511735

The highest rate of high school graduation is among white people with a rate of 97.43%.

The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among white people with a rate of 64.94%.

San Luis Obispo Earnings by Educational Attainment

Name Average Male Female
Overall$40,910$47,001$34,303
Less Than High School$18,821$21,281$11,806
High School Grad$28,390$30,659$22,738
Some College$32,195$36,430$29,222
Bachelors Degree$51,089$61,203$41,614
Graduate Degree$65,925$77,262$55,233

$40,910

Average Earnings

$47,001

Average Male

$34,303

Average Female

San Luis Obispo Language

San Luis Obispo Language by Age

San Luis Obispo Language

83.31% of San Luis Obispo residents speak only English, while 16.69% speak other languages. The largest non-English language is Spanish, which is spoken by 11.16% of the population.

San Luis Obispo Poverty

San Luis Obispo Poverty by Race

Name Total In Poverty Poverty Rate
White33,19510,72032.29%
Hispanic7,9292,35229.66%
Asian2,49891436.59%
Multiple1,65356834.36%
Other1,59751832.44%
Black98142243.02%
Native2214721.27%

32.44%

Overall Poverty Rate

32.91%

Male Poverty Rate

31.94%

Female Poverty Rate

Poverty in San Luis Obispo

The race most likely to be in poverty in San Luis Obispo is Black, with 43.02% below the poverty level.

The race least likely to be in poverty in San Luis Obispo is Native, with 21.27% below the poverty level.

The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 2.48%. Among those working part-time, it was 54.31%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 42.52%.

San Luis Obispo Poverty Rate by Education

Name Poverty
Less Than High School19.23%
Some College15.12%
High School10.39%
Bachelors or Greater5.76%

San Luis Obispo Poverty Rate by Employment Status and Sex

Name Poverty
Male Unemployed70.44%
Female Unemployed43.10%
Female Employed29.45%
Male Employed19.31%

San Luis Obispo Income

San Luis Obispo Income by Household Type

Name Median Mean
Households$49,640$72,259
Families$87,635$109,998
Married Families$105,763$
Non Families$28,492$44,663

San Luis Obispo Marital Status

San Luis Obispo Marital Status

Marriage Rates

30.0%

Overall Marriage Rate

29.3%

Male Marriage Rate

30.7%

Female Marriage Rate

San Luis Obispo Married by Age and Sex

San Luis Obispo Marriage

The age group where males are most likely to be married is 55To64, while the female age group most likely to be married is 35To44.

San Luis Obispo Marital Status by Race


Data via US Census (2017 ACS 5-Year Survey): Table S1201

San Luis Obispo Veterans

San Luis Obispo Veterans by War

1,927

Number of Veterans

1,762

Male Veterans

165

Female Veterans

Name Veterans
Vietnam660
Korea247
Second Gulf War242
World War II207
First Gulf War206

San Luis Obispo Veterans by Age

Name Veterans
75+657
65 to 74532
35 to 54297
55 to 64237
18 to 34204

San Luis Obispo Veterans by Race

Name Veterans % of Total
White1,7214.88%
Hispanic811.32%
Asian713.01%
Black658.44%
Other342.72%
2 or More232.06%
Indian138.33%

San Luis Obispo Veterans by Education

5.59%

Veteran Poverty Rate

34.15%

Veteran Disability Rate

San Luis Obispo Employment Status

San Luis Obispo Employment by Age

60.9%

Labor Force Participation

58.1%

Employment Rate

4.5%

Unemployment Rate

San Luis Obispo Employment by Race

San Luis Obispo Employment by Education

San Luis Obispo Place of Birth

Origin of Non Citizens

Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.

Origin of Naturalized Citizens

66.56%

Born in California

90.83%

Native Born

9.17%

Foreign Born

4.63%

Non Citizen

Place of Birth

90.83% of San Luis Obispo residents were born in the United States, with 66.56% having been born in California. 4.63% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.