New U.S. Census Data: Silicon Valley Population Barely Grew in 2017

Downtown San Jose looking east
(Photo by Sharon Simonson)

Alameda and San Francisco counties also are seeing slower population growth. Existing residents left the region at their highest levels in seven years in 2017. International in-migration is compensating for the departures.

By Sharon Simonson

Population growth has nearly stopped in Santa Clara County. According to 2017 population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week, the population of the Bay Area’s largest county, with not quite two million people, grew a scant 6,578 people in the year ended July 1.

Current residents are leaving the county at their greatest numbers since 2011. More than 26,000 Santa Clara County residents moved to another U.S. county last year. That compares to the fewer than 3,000 residents who left for other U.S. counties in 2011. In the last seven years, not quite 75,000 people living in Santa Clara County moved to another U.S. county.

Without the largest influx of international migrants in seven years—more than 20,700 people—Santa Clara County would have lost population last year. International migration brought more than 132,00 new residents to Santa Clara County from 2011 through 2017.

Alameda and San Francisco counties, the region’s next two largest as measured by population, have witnessed similar patterns of human movement and change, though not at the same scale as Santa Clara County.

Alameda County’s population grew by not quite 10,000 people last year. In comparison, the county’s population grew by more than 23,000 people in every year from 2012 through 2015. International migration to Alameda County also reached a seven-year high last year at more than 13,000 people. Alameda County’s largest city is Oakland. 

The San Francisco County population grew by 8,260 people last year, a seven-year low but still more than Santa Clara County, which has more than twice as many people. The in-migration of people from outside the United States into San Francisco County also reached a seven-year high at nearly 8,250 people.

The Census Bureau’s annual population estimates incorporate births, deaths, and the number of people from other U.S. counties and from outside the United States who move into and out of each U.S. county. The estimates also include the movements of the armed forces.

Santa Clara County’s population increased by more than 25,000 in both 2012 and 2013 and by more than 22,000 in every year from 2011 through 2015.

Maricopa County, Arizona, home to Phoenix, saw the nation’s largest population increase last year at nearly 75,000. Nationwide, many of the fastest growing counties in the country are in Texas, many of them constituent parts of the so-called Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Tarrant County, home to Fort Worth with roughly the same population as Santa Clara County, added nearly 32,000 people last year.

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