Population decline in California was once unthinkable. Since gaining statehood the Golden State has gained population virtually every year, growing from a grand total of 92,597 people in 1850 to a whopping 33.4 million residents in 2018. The state’s population leveled off in 2019, but rounded off 2020 with a net loss of about 135,000 people.
True, the numbers alone are not exactly cause for alarm in Sacramento. But the makeup of the exodus is a matter of concern: Technology giants Oracle, Palantir and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise headed the list of companies that announced plans to leave California in 2020, citing hostile conditions for business. So did a list of 1-percenters, headed by Elon Musk but also including Larry Ellison, Drew Houston, Joe Lonsdale
But the state of California is emerging as one of 2021’s defining stories. NPR’s Meghna Chakrabarti sheds light on the question with a wide-ranging interview with CalMatters’ Lauren Hepler, Beacon Economics’ Adam J. Fowler and Ben Koo, editor-in-chief of the sports and pop culture blog The Comeback.