Every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a once-per-decade count of the nation’s population. The Census is a U.S. Constitutional requirement of the federal government used to allot the number of congressional representatives for each state, to redraw the boundaries of legislative districts within a state, and to determine federal funding to support community services. A look into the 2020 Census count results released to the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) Board of Directors shows that the region is growing slower than the statewide average, housing production continues to not keep up with existing population and growth, an increase in the countywide proportion of the Hispanic/Latino population, and North County continues to gain in its share of the region’s population, 54 percent in 2020 compared to 52 percent in 2010. The Summary Report contains a variety of interesting and useful data points relevant to the Santa Barbara County region which is available for the public to download below.
The 2020 Census Summary Report is prepared by SBCAG as the State Census Data Affiliate Center in Santa Barbara County. “Information from the 2020 Census helps decision makers better understand the region’s population, how to plan for housing, jobs, schools, and to know how much state and federal funding the region will receive for essential community services,” said Marjie Kirn, executive director of SBCAG.
The 2020 Census report is based on information contained in the release of the Census Redistricting File – an early product from the U.S. Census Bureau of results from the 2020 Census count. The data is limited and specific to population for cities and unincorporated areas, housing units and Race and Hispanic Origin. In September, the U.S. Census Bureau released the Redistricting File in an easier-to-use format for the public, now available on data.census.gov.
Important highlights from the latest summary report include:
- The 2020 Census population of Santa Barbara County is 448,229 persons, increasing by 5.7 percent or 24,334 persons since 2010.
- The proportion of Santa Barbara County’s population relative to the state population has declined since 1970. For essential programs and services that rely on population to distribute funds, a lower percentage represents a smaller proportion of Statewide population and potential funding.
- The City of Santa Maria showed the largest population growth in the County over the ten-year period increasing by 10,154 persons. The City of Goleta experienced the largest population growth in the South Coast with a 2,802 person increase.
- The cities of Solvang and Guadalupe experienced the largest percentage population increase between 2010 and 2020 with an increase of 16.8 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively. The City of Santa Barbara experienced the smallest percent increase of 0.3 percent.
- The unincorporated county has the largest share of countywide population with 31 percent. The City of Santa Maria follows with 25 percent and has the largest share relative to other incorporated jurisdictions.
- The North County share of countywide population is 54 percent, or 239,868 persons increasing from 52 percent in 2010.
- Unincorporated areas such as the Eastern Goleta Valley is a newly designated place resulting in the first official Census population estimate unique to that community of 28,656 persons. The communities of Isla Vista and University of California Santa Barbara have also been redefined for the 2020 Census resulting in estimates of 28,656 and 9,710 persons, respectively.
- The communities of Summerland and Montecito experienced population declines between 2010 and 2020.
- The largest numerical increase in housing units from 2010 to 2020 occurred in the City of Santa Maria with 1,666 new units followed by the City of Goleta with 1,170 new units.
- The City of Guadalupe has the highest average number of persons per household at 3.91 persons in the region and the City of Solvang is the lowest at 2.34 persons.
- Since 2010, for every 4.5 new resident in the region, one new housing unit was added.
- The countywide proportion of the Hispanic/Latino population in 2020 is 47 percent, an increase of 4.1 percent from 2010.
SBCAG’s summary report of the redistricting file is a portion of the 2020 census data expected to be released over the next few years by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Demographic and Housing Characteristics file is expected to be released in 2022. Additionally, a detailed American Community Survey is expected in December 2021 by the U.S. Census Bureau that includes data on age, gender, income, and household relationship. Urban area delineations and population counts will be released in 2023. SBCAG will continue to present information as it becomes available.