The growth, just under 1 percent, brought the state's population to 38.3 million by the end of the year, an annual report from the department's demographic unit said.
The San Francisco Bay Area, whose economy has been booming, was the state's fastest growing region last year with three of the state's highest growth counties, led by Santa Clara County, home of Silicon Valley. Its 1.5 percent growth was closely followed by adjacent Alameda County.
However, the state's fastest growing cities tended to be in inland areas, led by McFarland in Kern County, whose population expanded by 8.9 percent last year - mostly inmates in local correctional facilities which have expanded to meet the state's program of reducing the state prison population.
Last year's overall population growth, driven largely by the state's having many more births than deaths, continued the slow pattern of the last decade. Immigration from other states and countries, once the major driver of growth, has dropped to near-zero.
PHOTO: The Transamerica tower, at left, dominates the skyline as the sun sets on the city of San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. The Bay Area was the state's fastest growing region last year. Associated Press/ Marcio Jose Sanchez.