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A polite, decade-long disagreement between the federal Census Bureau and California's state demographers developed after the 2000 census.

The Census Bureau saw California's population growing more slowly than did the state, and by the end of the decade, the gap between the two had grown to about a million persons.

The 2010 census officially settled the argument in the Census Bureau's favor. The state, albeit reluctantly, rebenched its population figures to the census.

Two years later, however, the gap has emerged again, only this time the Census Bureau sees California's population growing more rapidly than does the state Department of Finance's population unit.

Last week, the state pegged California's July 1 population at 37.8 million, up 256,000 from 2011. But on Thursday, the Census Bureau said the state had just over 38 million residents on July 1, having grown by 357,500 during the previous 12 months.

The Census Bureau's growth estimate for California was the nation's second highest behind Texas' 427,400, but in percentage terms, the state's annual growth rate, 0.9 percent, was just a tad over the national rate of 0.7 percent while Texas' rate, 1.7 percent, was nearly twice California's.

North Dakota, thanks to an oil boom, had the fastest growth rate of 2.17 percent and Texas was No. 3. California's rate was the 19th highest. At the other end of the scale, Vermont dropped by 581 residents. It and Rhode Island were the only two states to see a population decline.


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