Leaders discuss population trend, SCV businesses

While Santa Clarita has experienced growth, California lost 182,000 residents between January 2020 and January 2021. Backed-up traffic is among the top complaints. Dan Watson / The Signal

California’s population fell in 2020 for the first time since the state started recording population estimates, according to the state’s Department of Finance. 

Between January 2020 and January 2021, the state lost more than 182,000 residents, representing a 0.46% decrease and bringing the total population to 39,466,855.  

Deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the loss of about 51,000 residents, 100,000 was attributed to federal immigration restrictions, while a decline in birth resulted in the remaining decline, according to a report on the data released by the department. 

However, despite the pandemic, Santa Clarita has been fortunate to experience continued growth, according to Jason Crawford, city of Santa Clarita planning, marketing and economic development manager, who added that the state’s Department of Finance reported that Santa Clarita’s population grew from 212,975 in 2019 to 221,932 in 2020, a 4.2% increase. 

New housing is in construction to keep up with the growing demand, while businesses have continued to move into the area, with new office, industrial and retail projects all moving forward, Crawford said. 

Ivan Volschenk, managing partner at Evolve Business Strategies, which manages the SCV Chamber of Commerce, also noted the unprecedented housing demand and business growth. 

“While California’s population may have declined for the first time in history, Santa Clarita continues to see demand and growth,” Volschenk said. “With the efforts of the SCV Chamber working for the business community to ensure a healthy climate for their companies, the outlook is promising for the SCV.” 

While nationally recognized businesses — such as Porsche, DrinkPak, LA North Studios, Illumination Dynamics and Amazon — have all moved into the area over the past 18 months, others have left, including Incora, formerly Wesco Aircraft, which announced it would be moving its global headquarters from Valencia to Texas in two phases starting this year. 

The company is set to begin relocating 239 jobs to Fort Worth this year, followed by 300 more in 2022, per a new release.  

“We have to come to grips with the fact that people are leaving the state,” financial analyst Erick Arndt said. “What people have to realize is if people who are paying taxes leave, there’s now less revenue coming in to support the same level of government, which means the rest of the people back here have to pay more.”  

And it’s news like this that Arndt worries will drive more people out of the state. 

“Despite the well-reported decline in population that is occurring in California statewide, the Santa Clarita Valley continues to grow in both population and in the number of new businesses moving and expanding in the SCV,” said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corp. “Nonetheless, the loss of population and business migration out of state should be a wakeup call to legislators on the need for California to focus on economic development and being friendly to job-creating businesses.” 

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