San Luis Obispo, California Population 2021

47,777
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San Luis Obispo is a city located in San Luis Obispo County California. It is also the county seat of San Luis Obispo County. With a 2020 population of 47,777, it is the 187th largest city in California and the 825th largest city in the United States . San Luis Obispo is currently growing at a rate of 0.33% annually and its population has increased by 5.89% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 45,119 in 2010. San Luis Obispo reached it's highest population of 47,777 in 2021. Spanning over 13 miles, San Luis Obispo has a population density of 3,585 people per square mile.

The average household income in San Luis Obispo is $82,864 with a poverty rate of 30.40%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $1,575 per month, and the median house value is $643,200. The median age in San Luis Obispo is 26.7 years, 26.1 years for males, and 27.3 years for females.

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.

San Luis Obispo Population Statistics

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 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.

The Chumash people were the original inhabitants of the area that is now San Luis Obispo. In the 18th century, Gaspar de Portola's expedition entered the city. 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 the 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 Demographics

According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of San Luis Obispo was:

  • White: 83.79%
  • Asian: 5.43%
  • Other race: 4.16%
  • Two or more races: 3.95%
  • Black or African American: 2.11%
  • Native American: 0.52%
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.04%
The current population of San Luis Obispo, California is 47,777 based on our projections of the latest US Census estimates. The US Census estimates the 2018 population at 47,300.The last official US Census in 2010 recorded the population at 45,119.

San Luis Obispo, California Population 2021

2019 and 2020 population is estimated by projecting the raw 2018 numbers.

Year Population Growth Growth Rate
2021282,625-243-0.09%
2020282,868-243-0.09%
2019283,111-243-0.09%
2018283,3548730.31%
2017282,4816780.24%
2016281,8031,7260.61%
2015280,0771,8500.66%
2014278,2272,5310.91%
2013275,6961,5360.56%
2012274,1603,1021.13%
2011271,0581,2560.46%
2010269,8020.00%

San Luis Obispo Metro Area Population by Year

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
White39,63483.79%
Asian2,5705.43%
Some Other Race1,9674.16%
Two or More Races1,8673.95%
Black or African American9982.11%
American Indian and Alaska Native2450.52%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander210.04%
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San Luis Obispo Population by Race

San Luis Obispo Population Pyramid $2021

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San Luis Obispo Median Age

26.7


Total

26.1


Male

27.3


Female

San Luis Obispo Adults

There are 41,177 adults, (6,264 of whom are seniors) in San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo Age Dependency

35.5

Age Dependency Ratio

17.9

Old Age Dependency Ratio

17.5

Child Dependency Ratio

San Luis Obispo Sex Ratio

Female

23,061

48.75%

Male

24,241

51.25%

San Luis Obispo Population by Age

San Luis Obispo Renter vs Owner Occupied by Household Type

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San Luis Obispo Household Types

Type Owner Renter
Married66.6%33.4%
Female43.5%56.5%
All38.8%61.2%
Male33.2%66.8%
Non Family24.8%75.2%

38.8%

Rate of Home Ownership

San Luis Obispo Households and Families

Type Count Average Size Owned
All18,9952.4238.8
Non Family11,488224.8
Married5,734366.6
Female1,0873.2443.5
Male6863.4233.2

2.94

Average Family Size

2.42

Average Household Size

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San Luis Obispo Households by Type

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Education Attained Count Percentage
Less Than 9th Grade8713.49%
9th to 12th Grade8983.60%
High School Graduate2,99612.00%
Some College5,36621.49%
Associates Degree2,3579.44%
Bachelors Degree7,35329.44%
Graduate Degree5,13320.55%
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San Luis Obispo Educational Attainment by Sex (over 25)

San Luis Obispo Educational Attainment by Race

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Race Total High School Bachelors
White18,97618,41010,074
Hispanic3,9192,9791,174
Asian1,083984874
Other Race870594151
2+ Races618579312
Black45131773
Native American16513736
Islander1515

The highest rate of high school graduation is among islander people with a rate of 100.00%.

The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 80.70%.

San Luis Obispo Educational Attainment by Race

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Name Average Male Female
Overall$44,791$52,748$37,254
Less Than 9th Grade$20,680$24,709$15,724
High School Graduate$28,304$31,489$23,183
Some College$35,756$38,288$31,678
Bachelors Degree$54,079$70,321$43,750
Graduate Degree$71,225$82,917$56,949

$44,791

Average Earnings

$52,748

Average Male

$37,254

Average Female

San Luis Obispo Earnings by Educational Attainment

San Luis Obispo Language by Age

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San Luis Obispo Language

82.47% of San Luis Obispo residents speak only English, while 17.53% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 11.14% of the population.

San Luis Obispo Language

San Luis Obispo Poverty by Race

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Name Total In Poverty Poverty Rate
White32,6009,98530.63%
Hispanic8,5032,12424.98%
Asian2,47788035.53%
Multiple1,82667737.08%
Other1,94065833.92%
Black97039440.62%
Native2453313.47%

30.40%

Overall Poverty Rate

30.29%

Male Poverty Rate

30.51%

Female Poverty Rate

Poverty in San Luis Obispo

The race most likely to be in poverty in San Luis Obispo is Black, with 40.62% below the poverty level.

The race least likely to be in poverty in San Luis Obispo is Native, with 13.47% below the poverty level.

The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.59%. Among those working part-time, it was 52.19%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 39.25%.

San Luis Obispo Poverty

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Name Poverty
Less Than 9th Grade25.21%
High School12.94%
Some College10.93%
Bachelors or Greater5.41%

San Luis Obispo Poverty Rate by Education

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Rate Poverty
Male Unemployed62.35%
Female Unemployed38.69%
Female Employed27.93%
Male Employed19.24%

San Luis Obispo Poverty Rate by Employment Status and Sex

San Luis Obispo Income by Household Type

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Name Median Mean
Households$56,071$82,864
Families$97,969$125,393
Married Families$117,313-
Non Families$34,660$52,721
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Income by Household Type

San Luis Obispo Marital Status

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Marriage Rates

29.8%

Overall Marriage Rate

29.0%

Male Marriage Rate

30.6%

Female Marriage Rate

San Luis Obispo Married by Age and Sex

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San Luis Obispo Marriage

The age group where males are most likely to be married is 45-54, while the female age group most likely to be married is 35-44.

San Luis Obispo Marital Status by Race

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San Luis Obispo Marital Status

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1,636

Number of Veterans

1,538

Male Veterans

98

Female Veterans

War Veterans
Vietnam647
Korea261
Second Gulf War221
First Gulf War141
World War II76

San Luis Obispo Veterans by War

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Age Group Veterans
75+601
65 to 74502
35 to 54215
18 to 34175
55 to 64143

San Luis Obispo Veterans by Age

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Name Veterans % of Total
White1,5294.35%
Hispanic971.50%
Asian351.58%
Other Race231.56%
Black202.71%
Native American188.96%
2+ Races110.79%

San Luis Obispo Veterans by Race

San Luis Obispo Veterans by Education

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7.20%

Veteran Poverty Rate

35.29%

Veteran Disability Rate

San Luis Obispo Veterans by Education

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62.6%

Labor Force Participation

60.3%

Employment Rate

3.7%

Unemployment Rate

San Luis Obispo Employment by Age

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San Luis Obispo Employment by Race

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San Luis Obispo Employment by Education

Origin of Non-Citizens

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

Origin of Naturalized Citizens

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66.91%

Born in San Luis Obispo

91.21%

Native Born

8.79%

Foreign Born

4.53%

Non Citizen

4.26%

Naturalized

Place of Birth

91.21% of San Luis Obispo residents were born in the United States, with 66.91% having been born in California. 4.53% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.

San Luis Obispo Place of Birth

Year Population Growth Annual Growth Rate
202147,7771590.33%
202047,6181590.34%
201947,4591590.34%
201847,300-44-0.09%
201747,344310.07%
201647,3132970.63%
201547,0165381.16%
201446,4782420.52%
201346,2365081.11%
201245,7283820.84%
201145,3461900.42%
201045,1569820.22%
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 by Year