UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge Director Paul Ong spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the decline in California’s population, largely driven by lower immigration, fewer births and pandemic deaths. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California experienced a net loss of 262,000 residents between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, mostly from Los Angeles County. Ong pointed out that while the COVID-19 pandemic probably played a role in less immigration, the number of international migrants has been steadily declining for several years. “It’s a combination of those things, but certainly it was happening before the pandemic,” Ong said. “In some ways, it’s part of what we see historically in terms of immigrants — that they do settle and cluster in a few areas and cities, but over time they move away.” Ong said that a shrinking population can have a negative effect on the local economy and result in a decrease in the number of skilled workers in a region.