The U.S. Census Bureau released its yearly population updates for the nation’s counties and metropolitan areas today, and because San Francisco is a consolidated city-county, we know something most other cities won’t for another few months: our population as of July 1, 2017.
At 884,363, it’s an increase of just less than 1 percent over 2016’s total of 876,103. That numerical gain — 8,260 people — is the smallest year-over-year gain of the 2010s. Earlier in the decade, San Francisco was routinely adding as many as 14,000 people in a single year. In 2010, the city was home to 805,000 people, and if growth rates remain constant, we’re on target to hit 900,000 in 2020 and 1 million by 2032. Annual population increases feel almost like a given, but in a 30-year period spanning the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, San Francisco steadily lost nearly 100,000 residents.
Since 2016, the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area gained 28,280 people to reach 4,727,257 people. The Census considers San Jose to be a different metro, and it recorded a much smaller gain — numerically and in percentage terms — of only 7,553 people, to 1,998,463.)
What’s frustrating about these numbers is that they don’t reveal in-migration and out-migration. We know displacement may have expelled several hundred thousand individuals from San Francisco during this century, but as long as the total population goes up, a city will appear healthy. It’s not disputed that more people are leaving the Bay Area than moving to it, so population gains reflect a strict births-over-deaths calculus.
Population growth is not even spread around the Bay Area, either. Alameda County gained about 10,000 people to reach 1,663,000. San Mateo County gained 2,000 people, climbing to about 771,000, and Contra Costa County expanded by 9,000 people to 1,147,000. But Marin County shed about 600 residents, falling to just below 261,000. And Sonoma County grew by about 1 percent, to 504,000 — a figure that does not account for the wildfires that tore through the region several months after the date of these estimates. Napa officially lost 700 residents, a number that is almost certain to go up.
Elsewhere in California, Los Angeles County remains the most populous in the nation by far, with 10.164 million people or more than 41 U.S. states.