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California's population grew last fiscal year by 256,000 residents due to natural births, a 0.68 percent increase that brings the state's total to 37,826,000 people.

The data are contained in a new release from the state Department of Finance, whose demographers update population statistics each year.

The state has seen annual population growth rates below 1 percent since 2004-2005. The new report shows California had 503,000 births last fiscal year, 234,000 deaths and a net migration of 13,000 people who left the state.

Placer County again topped the list in population growth with 1.21 percent growth to 360,680 residents. Santa Clara County was close behind with 1.20 percent growth to 1,828,597 residents.

Lassen County saw the biggest population decrease, losing 2.94 percent down to 33,650 residents. Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said the county suffered significant population declines after the state began shifting lower-level prisoners and parolees to counties, resulting in fewer people at Lassen's California Correctional Center and High Desert State Prison.

Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego and Santa Clara Counties saw the largest growth in number of residents, accounting for more than half of the state's population increase.

While births continue to provide most population growth in the state, 12 rural counties saw more deaths than births in 2011-12. Those are: Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Lake, Mariposa, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Sierra, Siskiyou, Trinity and Tuolumne Counties.

Today's Bee graphically showed the details of Californians leaving the state.

Post updated with details on Lassen County from the Department of Finance.


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