California’s coming youth deficit – Orange County Register

Images of California, particularly the southern coast, are embedded with those associated with youthfulness — surfers, actors, models, glamorous entrepreneurs. Yet, in reality, the state — and the region — are falling well behind in the growth of their youthful population, which carries significant implications for our future economic trajectory and the nature of our society.

The numbers, provided by demographer Wendell Cox, based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates, should concern every business and community, particularly across the high-priced coastal areas. On the other hand, the stronger youthful growth in the interior, notably the Inland Empire, may become the basis for a regional resurgence, given a less draconian state regulatory regime.

What the numbers say

Let’s start with the millennials, the population that was aged between 20 and 34 in 2015. Since 2000, the growth of this segment of the population has been, for the most part, very slow along the coastal regions, well below the 6 percent national average. In Los Angeles and Orange County, the youth population grew by roughly 3 percent, about half the national average. San Francisco-Oakland, did a bit better, at 7 percent, but Silicon Valley-San Jose experienced a barely 1 percent increase.

In comparison, the millennial population of Orlando, Fla., grew by 47 percent, while in Las Vegas it increased by 42 percent. The four big Texas cities — led by San Antonio, with a 43 percent increase — all registered well over 20 percent growth. Rising tech regions, like Raleigh, N.C., saw 30 percent growth — 30 times the rate in Silicon Valley.

Yet, not all of California is losing out in the coming generation. The fastest-growing region for young people among the 53 largest metropolitan regions is right here in Southern California, the Riverside-San Bernardino area, which saw its 20-34 population expand by a remarkable 47 percent. Another inland standout in California, Sacramento, grew by over 30 percent, far ahead of any of the coastal areas.

Drilling down in Southern California

One of the most oft-repeated memes of the national media is that millennials are swarming into dense, coastal urban areas. It’s a nice story for urban land speculators and owners of expensive inner-city properties, but the thesis does not hold up well. In fact, of the 20 fastest-growing millennial regions, only two urban icons, Seattle and, to a lesser extent, Portland, Ore., show much vitality — and neither is…

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