San Diego County Population Growth has all but Stopped

Written by Richard Rider, Chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters

I was on one of my statistical journeys through U.S. Census data when I unexpectedly stumbled upon this the following important fact:

According to the latest census figures, the population of San Diego County — a huge county larger than the state of Rhode Island and is home to over 3.3 million people — barely increased in population in the last reported year. From July 2017 to July 2018, the county population grew by only 5,679 people. That’s an annual growth rate of just 0.17%.

If this trend continues, in the coming 10 years, the county will grow by less than two percent. That two percent is not “per year” — that’s per ten years.

Likewise, California state population growth has also been slowing. But slow as our state population growth is, it’s still growing two to three times faster than San Diego County. Moreover, while the nation’s overall population growth has also been slowing, over the last two years population growth in the other 49 states has been growing 50 percent faster than California.

There are many reasons why this lack of population growth (such growth being good or bad depending on one’s viewpoint) is important. School districts have downplayed their stagnant enrollment for years (lower birth rates) — pleading for ever more money for “critically needed” facilities. Governments at every level have for years been overestimating our San Diego County growth rate.

But perhaps the most important reason this moribund San Diego County growth rate is important is that for years, SANDAG, our county’s rogue regional transportation super-agency, has been systematically overestimating our growth to justify their foolish spending on little used rail transit. The most recent example is the SANDAG bureaucrats’ gonzo plan to have high speed rail crisscrossing our rural county areas at the cost of many billions of dollars — to meet our supposedly steadily increasing transportation needs.

From what I can find online, SANDAG last projected our county’s 2050 population in the year 2013. No further updates are available. San Diego County’s population was projected to be 4,068,759 in 2050. Using the last available year’s growth rate of 0.17% as the average future growth rate, it now appears that our county population will be 3,524,120 by mid-century. That’s 544,639 less people than SANDAG’s optimistic and outdated 2013 projection.

Again, let me emphasize that this slowing population growth rate has been going on for several years — at the national, state, and local level. There’s no reason to think it’s going to reverse direction. It seems more likely that the growth will further slow, and even go negative. Indeed, this last census survey found that no less than 10 states population growth rate had actually turned negative.