STOCKTON — The Central Valley’s population is booming. A new study from the San Joaquin Council of Governments, Stanislaus Council of Governments, Merced County Association of Governments and the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific illustrates the fact dramatically.
According to the projections, San Joaquin County’s population will rise most dramatically. It is expected to surpass the 1 million mark by 2040. It will jump from its 2015 population of 728,633 to more than 800,000 by 2030.
The annual growth rate is expected to remain relatively stable between 1.22 percent and 1.48 percent. Under those assumptions, more than 1.3 million people will reside in the county by 2060.
The biggest driving force in the population growth is the Hispanic community. By 2030, the number of Hispanics is expected to increase by nearly 100,000 to hit the 400,000 mark. Caucasian and Asian populations will also grow, but by slower margins while African American populations are expected to remain steady.
Among San Joaquin County cities, Stockton is expected to surpass the 400,000 mark in 2035 from its 2015 mark of 309,000 residents. Lathrop is projected to more than double its current population of 23,107 to more than 50,000 by 2035. A large part of that population explosion is due to new residential developments such as River Islands.
By 2030, government and education and health services will likely be the largest employment sectors in San Joaquin County. Combined, those two sectors will account for 94,108 of the expected 270,185 jobs.
While populations in both Stanislaus and Merced counties will continue to grow, that growth is expected to be less dramatic. Stanislaus County’s 2015 population of 540,794 is expected to jump to 674,019 by 2035 and hit 836,635 by 2060. Growth in the Hispanic community will again be the driving force behind the population boom.
Modesto’s population is expected to grow to 265,545 by 2035 from its current 210,000. Educational and health services are expected to continue to be the largest employers in the county. Construction, natural resources and mining will see the biggest percentage jump, more than doubling to almost 18,000 jobs by 2045.
Merced will also see steady growth, increasing from 272,718 in 2015 to more than 334,000 by 2030. The growth rate in Merced is expected to fluctuate between 1 and 1.4 percent during the next 45 years.
Education is expected to surpass agriculture and manufacturing as the county’s second largest employer by 2025. Governmental employment is projected to remain the county’s largest employer through at least 2045.