America's most populous state is shrinking — at least a little. The Associated Press reports: With an estimated 39,185,605 residents, California is still the U.S.'s most populous state, putting it far ahead of second-place Texas and its 29.5 million residents. But after years of strong growth brought California tantalizingly close to the 40 million milestone, the state's population is now roughly back to where it was in 2016 after declining by 117,552 people this year.
That's a drop of 0.29% — at least some of which seems attributable to the pandemic. California's population growth had been slowing even before the pandemic as baby boomers' aged, younger generations were having fewer children and more people were moving to other states. But the state's natural growth — more births than deaths — and its robust international immigration had been more than enough to offset those losses. That changed in 2020, when the pandemic killed tens of thousands of people above what would be expected from natural causes, a category demographers refer to as "excess deaths." And it prompted a sharp decline in international immigration because of travel restrictions and limited visas from the federal government.

California's population fell for the first time that year. State officials thought it was an outlier because of the Pandemic that turned the world upside down. The decline was less in 2020 than it had been, according to the new estimate from the California Department of Finance. State officials pointed to losses in international immigration. California gained 43,300 residents from other countries. The annual average before the Pandemic was around 140,000.

The state's official demographer predicts California's population will go back to increasing in 2022.

California had a record budget surplus last year, and is in line for an even larger one this year due to a progressive tax structure and a disproportionate population.