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California saw modest population growth last year, and the biggest boomtowns by percentage were two prison cities, according to a new release from the state Department of Finance.

The state added 250,617 residents for a total of 37,678,563, a jump of 0.67 percent.

According to Finance statistics, some of the most active regions had to do with prisoner counts. The fastest growing city was Calipatria in Imperial County, which grew 4.2 percent after adding 286 inmates at Calipatria State Prison along with some regular household growth. The second fastest growing city? California City in Kern County at 3.7 percent after its federal prison added 392 inmates.

But not all was bustling for state prison towns. Thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to shift lower-level inmates to county jails, some of the biggest population declines were in places like Delano (-2.1 percent), Coalinga (-6.6 percent) and Chowchilla (-5.1 percent).

Locally, Winters in Yolo County (pop. 6,839) ranked third in growth rate at 3.5 percent.

Sacramento is the state's sixth largest city with 470,956 residents, a 0.3 percent increase above last year. Within the top 10, No. 3 San Jose (pop. 971,372) and No. 5 Fresno (505,009) grew fastest at 1.5 percent each.

The state's growth rate has slowed since the early part of last decade, when annual population increases topped 1 percent. Department of Finance assistant chief demographer John Malson said the state is seeing a decline in natural births, as well as a net outmigration to other states.

Malson said international migration to California is still positive, but owing largely to immigrants from Asia. Malson pointed to recent data showing that migration from Mexico to California may have already reversed due to economic problems here.

Finance bases its May report largely on housing activity, while taking into account previously reported data related to births and migration, Malson said.

Post updated at 11:35 a.m. with prison-related population declines.



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