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Ceres, other cities slip in population
Tuscany under construction
While Ceres has seen some home building, such as here at Tuscany Village subdivision on Whitmore Avenue, the population has decreased. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

Ceres is still shy of the magic population number of 50,000 that could trigger more economic development interest and actually lost population in the new population estimates released last week by the California State Department of Finance.

Ceres’ population dropped from 48,207 to 47,279, a decrease of 1 percent.

Ceres wasn’t alone given that the state lost an estimated 330,000 residents who left California due to its political climate and higher taxation and cost of living. Modesto also saw a slight decrease in population – from 217,699 to 216,995. Turlock went from 71,214 to 70,856. Oakdale dropped from 23,241 to 22,980. Newman went from 12,162 to 12,040.

The population of the unincorporated area of Stanislaus County dropped an estimated 1.1 percent, from 110,955 to 109,720.

Overall, Stanislaus County dropped from 548,719 to 545,939 residents, according to the state agency.

Fueled by new home sales in the 15,001-home planned River Islands community — Lathrop was California’s fastest growing city during 2022 based on new growth. The state reported that Lathrop’s estimated population went from 31,575 to 35,080 as of Jan. 1. That reflects an 11.1 percent year to year gain.

In 2022, only 125 of the state’s 482 cities gained population.

Among local cities that gained residents and their estimated population as of Jan. 1, 2023 are as follows:

• Hughson rose from 7,497 to 7,565.

• Waterford increased from 8,932 to 9,042.

• Riverbank gained also, from 24,670 to 24,695.

• Patterson went up from 24,142 to 22,980.

• Tracy went from 94,830 to 95,615.

• Manteca went from 86,784 to 88,803.

• Merced went from 88,657 to 90,116.

• Los Banos went from 46,827 to 47,347.

The Northern San Joaquin Valley — San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced continues — continued to be one of the only two regions to grow collectively in population in California, although ever so slightly. The other was the Inland Empire in Southern California consisting of Riverside and San Bernadino counties.

The Northern San Joaquín Valley was up 604 overall residents. It would have been more but Stanislaus County lost 2,780 residents that cut into a 3,384 gain in San Joaquin County and a 1,202 gain in Merced County.


Overall population as well as housing trends in California

Stable births, fewer deaths, and a rebound in foreign immigration slowed California’s recent population decline in 2022, with the state’s population estimated at 38,940,231 people as of Jan. 1, 2023.

Over the same period, statewide housing growth increased to 0.85 percent – its highest level since 2008.

California added 123,350 housing units on net, including 20,683 accessory dwelling units (ADUs), to bring total housing in the state to 14,707,698 units. New construction represents 116,683 housing units with 63,423 single family housing units, 51,787 multi-family housing units, and 1,473 mobile homes.

The 0.35-percent population decline for 2022, roughly 138,400 persons, marks a slowdown compared to the recent decline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between 2021 and 2022, California’s population decreased 0.53 percent or 207,800 persons, due mainly to sharp declines in natural increase and foreign immigration.

For 2022, natural increase – the net amount of births minus deaths -- increased from 87,400 in 2021 to 106,900 in 2022. Births decreased slightly from 420,800 in 2021 to 418,800 in 2022, while deaths declined gradually from 333,300 persons in 2021 to 311,900 persons in 2022, respectively.

Foreign immigration nearly tripled in 2022 compared to the prior year, with a net gain of 90,300 persons in 2022 compared to 31,300 in 2021. While foreign immigration to California has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, natural increase has not rebounded.

Total births remain low due to fertility declines; while deaths have eased gradually from their pandemic peak, they remain elevated.

With slower domestic in-migration and increased domestic out-migration likely the result of work from-home changes, declines in net domestic migration offset the population gains from natural increase and international migration.

Among the highlights of the population report:

• Of the ten largest cities in California, only three gained population: Sacramento had the largest percentage gain in population (0.2 percent, or 1,203) followed by Bakersfield (0.2 percent, or 882) and Fresno (0.1 percent, or 599).

• Accessory dwelling unit production increased by 60.6 percent, with the state adding 20,638 ADUs in 2022.

• Group quarters represent 2.4 percent (926,000) of the total state population. This population includes those living in college dormitories (269,000) and in correctional facilities (168,000). In 2022, California’s group quarters population increased by 11,000 people or 1.2 percent.

• The college dormitory population grew by 16,000 (6.2 percent). Correctional facilities declined in population in 2022 by 4,200 people (-2.5 percent) across federal, state and local facilities.

• As college dormitory populations continue to return to a post- pandemic normal, several jurisdictions saw significant gains in population due to this population. The City of Arcata in Humboldt County grew by 4.1 percent due to a 45.1 percent increase at Cal Poly Humboldt. The City of Marina in Monterey County grew by 2.5 percent due to a 12.6 percent increase at California State University at Monterey Bay.

• State prisons are generally located in remote areas; as a result, increases or decreases can account for significant changes in their respective area populations. For example, prison declines led to population decreases in Susanville (-9.5 percent) in Lassen County, Calipatria (-5.6 percent) in Imperial County, and Crescent City (-4.4 percent) in Del Norte County.

• Population growth slowed but remained positive in the interior counties of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, while most counties saw declines, including every coastal county except San Benito (0.2 percent).

•Only two counties had growth above a half of a percent: Madera (0.6 percent) and Yuba (0.6 percent), due to housing gains.

•The next largest in percentage growth were San Joaquin (0.4 percent), Merced (0.4 percent), and Imperial (0.4 percent) counties.

• Forty-six of the state’s fifty-eight counties lost population. The ten largest percentage decreases were: Lassen (-4.3 percent), Del Norte (-1.3 percent), Plumas (-1.2 percent), Santa Cruz (-1.0 percent), Marin (-1.0 percent), Tehama (-1.0 percent), Napa (-1.0 percent), Lake (-0.9 percent), Monterey (-0.8 percent), and Los Angeles (-0.8 percent).

• The state’s three most populous counties all experienced population loss: Los Angeles declined by 73,293 persons (-0.75 percent), San Diego by 5,680 persons (-0.2 percent), and Orange by 14,782 persons (-0.5 percent).  


Dennis Wyatt contributed to this article.