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More people than ever are moving out of the county
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Recently released population numbers from the California State Department of Finance and the U.S. Census Bureau paint a differing picture of California's declining growth.

Both agencies come close on the percentage growth undergone by California last year - the Census Bureau suggests a 1.0 percent year-over-year population growth, while the state estimates a 0.93 percent increase - but whether that growth is better or worse than usual depends on who you ask.

Census statistics point to California's 2009 population growth as equivalent to the state's growth in 2008, and better than 2005, 2006, or 2007, when the Census Bureau estimated a 0.8 percent growth. According to Department of Finance numbers, 2009 was the worst year for population growth this decade, falling below even the 2006 low point of 1.02 percent growth.

State statistics also point to 2009 as the worst year for population growth in Stanislaus County this decade. The county gained just 3,038 residents in 2009 - a .58 percent increase.

The Department of Finance estimate chronicles 8,563 births and 3,663 deaths in Stanislaus County during 2009. The Department of Finance also estimates the county absorbed 1,635 new foreign immigrants, the lowest number in a decade.

For the third straight year, Stanislaus County has seen more Americans leaving the county than moving in, according to the Department of Finance. The report shows the county lost 3,497 residents who left the county to live in another American county, fewer than a year ago but a larger decline than any other year this decade.

According to the state statistics, neighboring Merced and San Joaquin counties experienced population growth of .95 percent and .88 percent, respectively. Both marks represented the lowest year-over-year population growth in more than a decade.

Alpine County experienced the largest percentage decline in population, actually losing 2.32 percent of residents. However, for the county of 1,180, the figure only represents the departure of 28 residents.

Southern California's Imperial County had the largest percentage population growth, gaining 2.22 percent from 2008.