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California will end the decade with nearly 39 million residents, up nearly five million from the 2000 census, the state Department of Finance said Thursday.

As of July 1, the state had 38.8 million in population, which is 350,000 more than it had a year earlier, but less than a 1 percent growth rate, the department said.

The state's demographers, however, don't have the last word on the subject. Their estimate, based on births, deaths and other data, is about 1.5 million more than the Census Bureau's last pre-census projection, and the 2010 census numbers will be released soon.

The census will settle the dispute - which centers on different estimates of migration from California to other states during the decade - and if California's number is closer to the Census Bureau estimate, it could cost the state one or even two of its 53 congressional seats.

The Department of Finance report says that during the 2009-10 period, there were 525,000 births and 241,000 deaths, which accounted for 81 percent of the growth, and net migration of 66,000 made up the other 19 percent.

While overall growth was just under 1 percent, there were wide county-to-county variations. Generally, the state's inland counties grew markedly faster than those along the coast, with Riverside and Placer the fastest growing at over 1.5 percent. Tiny Sierra and Plumas counties actually lost population. Twenty-four counties grew faster than the state as a whole and 34 grew more slowly. Huge Los Angeles County, however, had the largest numerical gain of 64,125.

The complete report can be accessed here.


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