According to the latest census information, the population of California is approximately 38.3 million people. The San Francisco Bay area, home to five of the state’s seven fastest growing counties, so far, this decade, leads the state in population growth. Alameda County, in the East Bay, fueled the increase; from April 2010 through June 2014, it added more than 100,000 residents, growing from 1,510,271 in 2010 to 1,610,921 – an increase of 6.7 percent. Santa Clara County ranked fourth in population growth, going from 1,781,672 residents to 1,894,605. Contra Costa ranked fifth; it increased from 1,049,025 residents to 1,111,339. San Francisco County ranked sixth and San Mateo County ranked seventh in population growth.
San Francisco, the state’s fourth-largest city, grew by 10,600 people in 2013, a 1.3 percent increase that brings its total to 836,620 residents. Over the past four years, San Francisco’s population grew by more than 31,000 people.
Several factors have contributed to the Bay area’s rapid growth: more births than deaths overall in the state; immigration from other countries; a boost in employment in the tech corridors of the Bay area; and a rebound effect following the foreclosure crisis of several years ago, which hit Alameda and Contra Costa Counties particularly hard.
While more people means more jobs, and more cultural vibrancy, it also means increased congestion in the public transportation sector and more traffic jams on roads and bridges. Congestion is up throughout the Bay Area, but it is worst in the East Bay, which in 2013 accounted for seven of the region’s 10 worst gridlock hot spots, according a recent report from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
In addition, the growth in population has outpaced the growth in housing, pricing some people out of the market. Since 2010, housing construction has averaged 2,020 units per year in Alameda County and 1,484 units in Contra Costa County — far below historic averages. As a state, California added 59,000 housing units last year, compared with 45,000 in 2012. Meanwhile, the average rent has soared 41 percent to $1,934 in Alameda County and 30 percent to $1,622 in Contra Costa County, over the same time period.