After falling for the first time during the pandemic, California’s population continued to decline last year, albeit more slowly, according to estimates released by the state’s Department of Finance on Monday. Between Jan. 1, 2021, and Jan. 1, 2022, California lost 117,552 people, resulting in an estimated total population of 39,185,605. However, the 0.3% decline represents a slowing compared to the 0.59% drop that occurred over nine months from the April 2020 census date and the end of 2020. Analysts say that the decline underscores policies which restricted immigration, declining birth rates and the large number of deaths due to the pandemic. But facing the lack of affordable housing along the coasts, some Californian’s moved inland. Population growth remained strong in the interior counties of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire. Exceptions include coastal counties like San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz who saw college students returning to campus. “The addition of COVID-19-related deaths, federal policies restricting immigration and an increase in domestic out-migration further affected population totals,” the state Department of Finance said in a statement. “Overall growth was also affected by continuing federal delays in processing foreign migration: while last year saw positive immigration (43,300), the level was below the average annual rate of 140,000 before the pandemic.” Thirty-four of the state’s 58 counties lost population.The ten largest percentage decreases occurred in Plumas (-3.2%), Lassen (-2.8%), Butte (-2.4%), Del Norte (-1.4%), Napa (-1.0%), San Mateo (-0.9%), Marin (-0.9%), Shasta (-0.8%), San Francisco (-0.8%), and Ventura (-0.8%). The state’s three most populous counties all experienced population loss: Los Angeles declined by 70,114 persons (-0.7%), San Diego by 1,197 persons (-0.04%), and Orange by 7,297 persons (-0.2%)