Lathrop — powered by new home sales in the 15,001-home planned River Islands community — was California’s fastest growing city during 2022 based on new growth. The State Department of Finance Monday reported that Lathrop’s estimated population soared past the 35,000 mark as of Jan. 1 to reach 35,080 residents. That reflects an 11.1 percent year-to-year gain. It is important to note Lathrop’s population surge was based on new growth. Overall on the state’s list, Lathrop comes in at No. 2 for population growth at 11.1 percent.

Topping the list is Paradise with a 24.1 percent jump to 9,941 residents. To put that in perspective, before the 2018 wildfires wiped out much of the Butte County community killing 86 people in 2018, Paradise had 26,532  residents. Its population dropped to 4,719 in 2019. In the Department of Finance’s list of cities over 30,000, Lathrop was first at 11.1 percent while Manteca was fifth at 2.3 percent. All cities combined, Lathrop would drop to second and Manteca to sixth due to the rebuilding  in Paradise. Between both Manteca and Lathrop, there are 123,883 residents.

In raw population gain, Lathrop added 3,505 residents for the top overall gain in the state. Manteca was sixth with 2,019 additional residents. In 2021, Lathrop had added 1,947 residents to be ranked as 13th largest numerical gain in the state that year. Right behind Lathrop at 14th in 2021 with 1,864 additional residents was Manteca. But given Manteca is roughly three times larger in population, Lathrop’s additional residents translated into a 6.63 percent growth rate as opposed to Manteca’s 2.19 percent growth rate that made it California’s 25th fastest growing city in 2021.

Manteca has consistently been adding between 1,600 and 2,200 residents during the past 8 years. Both Lathrop and Manteca are on pace to build roughly the same number of new housing units this year that they did in 2022. Manteca added 1,094 housing units last year to bring the city’s total to 30,399. Lathrop added 1,391 housing units last year to bring the city’s total to 10,388. Lathrop — as of Jan. 1, 2022 — was at 35,080 residents and Manteca at 88,803. Tracy, with 30,275 housing units last year, has a population of 95,615. That means household sizes are larger in Tracy than Manteca. Tracy, with 124 housing units less than Manteca, has 6,198 more residents. Tracy added 785 residents last year compared to 2,019 for Manteca.

In 2022, only 125 of the state’s 482 cities gained population. The Northern San Joaquin Valley — San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced continues — continued to be one of the only two regions to grow collectively in population in California, although ever so slightly. The other was the Inland Empire in Southern California consisting of Riverside and San Bernadino counties.

The Northern San Joaquín Valley was up 604 overall residents. It would have been more but Stanislaus County lost 2,780 residents that cut into a 3,384 gain in San Joaquin County and a 1,202 gain in Merced County.

City population changes for

Northern San Joaquin Valley

Cities in the three-county Northern San Joaquin Valley region that gained residents and their estimated population as of Jan. 1, 2023 are as follows:

*Tracy went from 94,830 to 95,615.

*Manteca went from 86,784 to 88,803.

*Lathrop went from 31,575 to 35,080.

*Patterson went from 24,142 to 22,980

*Riverbank went from 24,670 to 24,695.

*Waterford went from 8,932 to 9,042.

*Hughson went from 7,497 to 7,565.

*Merced went from 88,657 to 90,116.

*Los Banos went from 46,827 to 47,347.

Cities in the three-county Northern San Joaquin Valley region that lost residents and their estimated population as of Jan. 1, 2023 are as follows:

*Stockton went from 321,911 to 319,731.

*Lodi went from 66,305 to 66,239.

*Ripon went from 15,921 to 15,769.

*Escalon went from 7,338 to 7,264.

*Modesto went from 217,699 to 216,995.

*Turlock went from 71,214 to 70,856.

*Ceres went from 48,207 to 47,27.

*Oakdale went from 23,241 to 22,980.

*Newman went from 12,162 to 12,040.

*Atwater went from 31,629 to 31,418.

*Livingston went from 14,352 to 14,257.

*Gustine went from 5,985 to 5,945.

*Dos Palos went from 5,697 to 5,640.

San Joaquin County overall, went from 782,811 to 786,145 residents.

Merced County went from 284,149 to 285,337.

Stanislaus County dropped from 548,719 to 54,939.

The three-county region now has a population of 1,617,421.

Overall population as well as

housing trends in California

Stable births, fewer deaths, and a rebound in foreign immigration slowed California’s recent population decline in 2022, with the state’s population estimated at 38,940,231 people as of Jan. 1, 2023.

Over the same period, statewide housing growth increased to 0.85 percent – its highest level since 2008.

California added 123,350 housing units on net, including 20,683 accessory dwelling units (ADUs), to bring total housing in the state to 14,707,698 units. New construction represents 116,683 housing units with 63,423 single family housing units, 51,787 multi-family housing units, and 1,473 mobile homes.

The 0.35-percent population decline for 2022, roughly 138,400 persons, marks a slowdown compared to the recent decline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between 2021 and 2022, California’s population decreased 0.53 percent or 207,800 persons, due mainly to sharp declines in natural increase and foreign immigration.

For 2022, natural increase – the net amount of births minus deaths — increased from 87,400 in 2021 to 106,900 in 2022. Births decreased slightly from 420,800 in 2021 to 418,800 in 2022, while deaths declined gradually from 333,300 persons in 2021 to 311,900 persons in 2022, respectively.

Foreign immigration nearly tripled in 2022 compared to the prior year, with a net gain of 90,300 persons in 2022 compared to 31,300 in 2021. While foreign immigration to California has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, natural increase has not rebounded.

Total births remain low due to fertility declines; while deaths have eased gradually from their pandemic peak, they remain elevated.

With slower domestic in-migration and increased domestic out-migration likely the result of work from-home changes, declines in net domestic migration offset the population gains from natural increase and international migration.

Among the highlights of the population report:

*Of the ten largest cities in California, only three gained population: Sacramento had the largest percentage gain in population (0.2 percent, or 1,203) followed by Bakersfield (0.2 percent, or 882) and Fresno (0.1 percent, or 599).

*Accessory dwelling unit production increased by 60.6 percent, with the state adding 20,638 ADUs in 2022.

*Group quarters represent 2.4 percent (926,000) of the total state population. This population includes those living in college dormitories (269,000) and in correctional facilities (168,000). In 2022, California’s group quarters population increased by 11,000 people or 1.2 percent.

*The college dormitory population grew by 16,000 (6.2 percent). Correctional facilities declined in population in 2022 by 4,200 people (-2.5 percent) across federal, state and local facilities.

*As college dormitory populations continue to return to a post- pandemic normal, several jurisdictions saw significant gains in population due to this population. The City of Arcata in Humboldt County grew by 4.1 percent due to a 45.1 percent increase at Cal Poly Humboldt. The City of Marina in Monterey County grew by 2.5 percent due to a 12.6 percent increase at California State University at Monterey Bay.

*State prisons are generally located in remote areas; as a result, increases or decreases can account for significant changes in their respective area populations. For example, prison declines led to population decreases in Susanville (-9.5 percent) in Lassen County, Calipatria (-5.6 percent) in Imperial County, and Crescent City (-4.4 percent) in Del Norte County.

*Population growth slowed but remained positive in the interior counties of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, while most counties saw declines, including every coastal county except San Benito (0.2 percent).

*Only two counties had growth above a half of a percent: Madera (0.6 percent) and Yuba (0.6 percent), due to housing gains.

*The next largest in percentage growth were San Joaquin (0.4 percent), Merced (0.4 percent), and Imperial (0.4 percent) counties.

*Forty-six of the state’s fifty-eight counties lost population. The ten largest percentage decreases were: Lassen (-4.3 percent), Del Norte (-1.3 percent), Plumas (-1.2 percent), Santa Cruz (-1.0 percent), Marin (-1.0 percent), Tehama (-1.0 percent), Napa (-1.0 percent), Lake (-0.9 percent), Monterey (-0.8 percent), and Los Angeles (-0.8 percent).

*The state’s three most populous counties all experienced population loss: Los Angeles declined by 73,293 persons (-0.75 percent), San Diego by 5,680 persons (-0.2 percent), and Orange by 14,782 persons (-0.5 percent).

‘A win for the entire region.’ Merced County awarded $49.6 million for Castle rail project

Merced County’s Castle Commerce Center is about to receive a huge boost in the form of a $49.6 million grant to build out an inland port that will improve its capacity to move freight worldwide. The California State Transportation Agency announced Merced County was awarded the grant on Thursday. “This will directly support our agricultural producers and manufacturers throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley,” said Merced County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott Silveira.

“This is a win for the entire region,” Silveira added. “From local agricultural producers to major manufacturers throughout the Valley, being able to transport goods in a quick and efficient manner is absolutely critical. This grant will position us to drive our economy in the right direction.” In January 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed $1.2 billion for port and freight infrastructure to support the state’s goods movement networks, which have been hurt by global disruptions and increased port congestion in recent years. The grant will help the state develop a more efficient, sustainable and resilient goods movement system.

Castle’s rail district became operational in May 2022 under Patriot Rail, which operates the rail line and has already tripled the shipping volume to and from Castle in recent months, according to Merced County spokesperson Mike North. The grant will help area farmers, manufacturers and other businesses to ship and receive goods throughout the San Joaquin Valley cost effectively. “Castle’s inland port and rail activities is focused on increasing regional economic opportunities while reducing semi-truck traffic along our roadways,” North said. The $49.6 million grant will enhance Castle Commerce Center’s existing rail capacity by: Facilitating the development of 70 acres at Castle to support pre-shipment processing and intermodal cross-docking for Central Valley agricultural producers. Providing cost-effective, direct rail service for shippers. Expanding the railway to a new staging and container laydown area to support cross-docking and processing. Evaluating, engineering and planning for further expansion on existing land within Castle Commerce Center. Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel, whose District 3 includes Castle Commerce Center, said the inland port and rail district has been in the works for many years and is a major focal point for the county.

“This is a prime example of government facilitating an environment where the private sector can thrive,” McDaniel said. The Merced County inland port will support additional goods movement to and from the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Oakland while making Merced County a focal point for inland goods movement. The rail district expansion project is expected to be complete by mid-2028. “With all that has been accomplished to date and coupled with this sizable state investment, Castle is proving to be the leading economic development site in California,” said Assistant Merced County Executive Officer Mark Hendrickson.

The Ugly Company: Saving ugly produce and creating a local business

Ben Moore’s mom affectionately nicknamed him “Big Ugly,” but that nickname came well before his business The Ugly Company.

The Ugly Company saves unsellable fruit from being tossed out and repurposes it into dried fruit snacks. Last year The Ugly Company saved and repurposed nearly 2.1 million pounds of food waste.

Moore and his Chief Brand Officer Matt Gorells joined the show with some samples of their ugly fruit and what their plans are for the future.

California’s Best City to Invest in Rental Housing? It’s Madera

California rental housing investment returns may lag behind the rest of the country, but Central Valley cities have the biggest gains in the state. Zillow data show rent in Madera will pay back a 20% down payment — the typical amount needed for a rental property — faster than anywhere else in the state. Real estate website Agent Advice compiled the data.

Three Years to Get a Down Payment Back in Madera

At an average rent of $2,195 a month, .57% of the average home value, it only takes 36 months to pay off the down payment, four months shorter than the national average of 40 months. The state average to pay back a down payment is 50 months, due in large part to very high average property values, the report stated.

Hanford, Visalia, Fresno, and Bakersfield round out the top five, in that order.

Madera’s year-over-year rental rate increases far outpace the other four cities. Zillow’s rent index — which includes apartments — shows rents growing 17.4% to $1,997 a month in May. Rent hikes in the other four cities hovered around 5%.

  • Hanford 5.8% to $1,774
  • Visalia 5.1% to $1,720
  • Fresno 5.1% to $2,005
  • Bakersfield 4.7% to $1,754

Madera Population Growth Modest, Bakersfield Trends Fastest

Population growth in Madera falls behind other cities in the ranking. Of the top five, Bakersfield has undergone the biggest population boom over the past five years, growing 6.15% to 408,373 as of Jan. 1, according to the California Department of Finance. Madera only grew 1.7% to 65,540 people. Visalia has grown 5.37%, with a population of 143,031 people.

For landlords competing with housing affordability, Madera County has one of the highest housing affordability ratings in the Central Valley. Approximately 54% of households can afford an entry-level home in the county, according to the California Association of Realtors. Tulare and Kings counties have slightly higher shares with 55% of households able to afford an entry-level home.

The state affordability average is 36%.,%E2%80%94%20faster%20than%20anywhere%20else%20in%20the%20state

The 10 best U.S. cities for new college grads based on job prospects, average income and more

The class of 2023 has made it pretty clear that they are ready and willing to move for job opportunities — and the destination doesn’t have to be a metropolis like New York City or Los Angeles. Zillow revealed exclusively to CNBC Make it, the marketplace’s 2023 ranking of the best places in the U.S. for recent college graduates.

The study analyzed the cities based on the following factors:
  • Rent-to-income ratio
  • Average salary for recent college graduates
  • Job openings
  • Share of the population in their 20s

“Navigating rent affordability can pose challenges for recent graduates entering the housing market, especially if they are doing it for the first time,” Nicole Bachaud, Zillow senior economist, tells CNBC Make It.

“It is important for these graduates to remain mindful of impending student loan repayments that will soon come into play, which will factor into the budgets of many and may impact housing decisions.”

Zillow’s report found that the second-largest markets across the U.S. can offer college graduates a higher quality of life and an accessible cost of living.

Top 10 best U.S. cities for recent college graduates
  1. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  2. Spokane, Wash.
  3. Des Moines, Iowa
  4. Phoenix, Ariz.
  5. Buffalo, Ariz.
  6. Albuquerque, N.M.
  7. Bakersfield, Calif.
  8. Albany, N.Y.
  9. Portland, Ore.
  10. Little Rock, Ark.

Colorado Springs, Colorado, ranked no. 1 on Zillow’s list of the best U.S. cities for recent college graduates. The Zillow Observed Rent Index found that the average rent in the Colorado city is $1,824, compared to $2,031 in Denver, about 90 minutes away. The study found that the average salary for a recent college grad in Colorado Springs is $63,190—which means the rent ratio is 35%. Colorado Springs is home to the University of Colorado: Colorado Springs, and Colorado College, both places that offer employment opportunities to their own recent grads and graduates of nearby colleges like Pikes Peak Community College.

Spokane, Washington, ranks second on the list. The average rent in Spokane is $1,563, compared to Seattle, where it’s $2,223, according to Zillow. And the average salary in the city is $61,162 making the rent-to-income ratio 31%. Like Colorado Springs, Spokane, Washington, is the second-largest city in its state. During the pandemic Spokane saw a rise in remote job postings and has been able to maintain that rate, specifically in areas of technical services, health care, social assistance, finance and insurance.

Rounding out the top three is Des Moines, Iowa. The city is a hub for recent college grads looking to get into the insurance and financial services sector. Some major companies with a significant presence in Des Moines include Wells Fargo and UPS. According to Zillow, the typical rent is $1,202, while the average salary for recent college grads is $59,697. The rent-to-income ratio in Des Moines is 24%, which is less than a quarter of the average salary for 2023 college graduates, $59,600, according to The National Center for Education Statistics. “With strong job growth and affordable rents, Des Moines becomes an attractive city for recent grads to build their careers and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle,” Emily McDonald, Zillow rental trends expert, tells CNBC Make It.


Paying property taxes is no picnic, but according to a new analysis, Central Valley residents receive the best value for their tax dollars in all of California. Financial information firm SmartAsset first calculated changes in property tax rates per capita. It also tracked school district rankings and home value growth for 2022 over a five-year period. It formed an overall index of all those factors to determine where property tax revenue is most effectively spent in the Golden State.

No. 1 was Kings County with an overall index score of 62.25. Home values in Kings County, where the property tax rate was 0.79%, grew by 65.08% in five years (No. 8 overall). Analyzing quality of schools based on math and reading/language arts proficiency scores, Kings County had a 5.00 school rating (No. 3 overall).

Fresno was No. 2 for SmartAsset’s best property tax value list with an index score of 58.56. In Fresno County, with a property tax rate of 0.82%, home values increased by 70.93% over five years (No. 5 overall). The school score index was 7.00 (No. 2 overall). Tulare County came in at No. 5 with an index score of 55.52. Its school rating score was 2.00, with home values increasing by 68.14% (No. 7 overall). It had a 0.75% property tax rate.

Madera County scored at No. 7 with a 53.24 overall index. Home value growth was 71% (No. 4 overall), while the school rating score was 2.00 and the property tax rate was 0.74%. Other counties packing the best overall property tax value list were Imperial at No. 3, Lassen at No. 4 and Merced at No. 6.


The Nov. 25 print edition of The Business Journal 

Despite inflation and a limited housing market, Madera is still poised for a positive economic outlook for 2023.

With a slew of new projects waiting to come online, Madera County remains robust with strong growth in both the industrial and commercial sectors.

Darren Rose, the new executive director of the Madera County Economic Development Commission (EDC), said there is strong business interest in the county because of its location, workforce and business friendly environment.

Rose said that the industrial sector is seeing a lot of movement in the county, adding up to 1 million square feet of industrial space.

Cold storage company Amond World is currently building a 250,000-square-foot almond cold storage facility near the Madera Airport. Construction is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2023.

Though they cannot be publicly named because of proprietary issues, a few local businesses in the county are preparing to expand, including a food manufacturer, a light-industrial construction fabrication company and an industrial component manufacturer and solutions provider.

Ready Roast Nut Company, an industrial supplier and processor of roasted tree nuts, is working with the city for its expansion as well, Rose said.

In August, ground broke for AutoZone’s Northern California distribution center, located in the Chowchilla Industrial Park near Highway 99. The $150 million project will create 300 full-time jobs.

The facility will cover 540,000 square feet and will be online by the end of 2023.

On the retail end, Rose said that there are inquiries from national brands, but with the national economic fluctuations, these companies cannot be disclosed.

“We have our eyes wide open — we are on the precipice of potential national recession, and retail tracks the economy very closely. We are excited, but we don’t know what the future holds from a national standpoint and what it would mean to locate a national company in the Madera market,” Rose said.

But the county does remain on the radar for national companies he said. The available workforce and land, as well as the transportation corridors, make the region attractive to national actors.

Madera will also be getting its first In N’ Out that will be going in the former space of the SugarPine Smokehouse restaurant near the Madera fairgrounds, which could open possibly by 2024, Rose said.

Rose said the ag industry in the county is expected to remain strong, but it is facing several challenges.

“The cost of fuel, supply chain issues with international markets are not as active and of course water,” Rose said. “Hopefully, the international markets begin to open and in turn help with commodity prices.”

Residential real estate is expected to remain active, but Rose said there is likely to be a slowdown because of the lack of available housing.

Madera City Manager Arnoldo Rodriguez said that the city has been fortunate this year with investment from private development, as well as grant funding for public projects.

For retail, Rodriguez said that Madera doesn’t have a single large vacant retail space, which is a challenge as the city is getting inquiries from national companies.

A Big Lots is going into the space of a former Save Mart, expected to open by early 2023.

Madera is expecting to break ground for its “Village D” master plan in the summer of 2023, consisting of 11,000 residential units and approximately two million square feet of commercial space near the Madera airport.

With the approval of Village D, and other subdivision housing projects, Rodriguez said the city is hopeful for a strong housing market.

“If interest rates come down a little bit, I think we will see a decent amount of development. With interest rates a little bit higher than average, people are skittish,” Rodriguez said. “While we can do a lot locally, some of it is dependent on national economic issues that we cannot control.”

With federal and state funding programs available, Rodriguez said the city has been aggressive in securing millions in grants for road repairs, new parks and park improvement, Fresno River conservation efforts and repairs for sidewalks.

The city also secured a $14 million grant to rehabilitate portions of Highway 145, which includes Yosemite Avenue, Downtown Madera’s main street. Construction for this will begin in 2025.

As well as attracting the attention of national companies, Madera County was able to attract national and international travelers as well.

Covid-19 restrictions in 2020, which carried into 2021, did lead to less visitors travelling to areas including Yosemite and Bass Lake, but the pent-demand led to a record number of visitors in 2022.

“The second quarter was strong — it beat all records,” said Rhonda Salisbury, CEO of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau. “2019 was the highest we had in tourism numbers, and 2022 beat that and 2021. But then the fires hit in July.”

California wildfires burned in the busiest time of the season, Salisbury said, which did bring down the number of visitors to the parks and lakes.

Since Yosemite National Park will no long be requiring reservations to visit, Salisbury expects this will draw more visitors in 2023.

She added that the bureau is expecting around the same number of visitors in 2023, especially with a lot of international travel rates returning to normal. They expect the typical European travelers to return in 2023, as well as for agritourism and Central Valley wineries.

Even with higher gas prices across the state, Salisbury said that if people are committed to traveling, gas prices are not going to deter them from taking a trip to the area.

“There’s more options of places to travel,” Salisbury said. “For a while California just toured California. Thank goodness we have so much to see and do.”

Productive, Calif.: Fresno’s economic comeback ranks among top in the U.S.

Prior to the Great Recession, Fresno ranked as one of the least economically productive cities in America. Here’s how the times have changed.

Fresno’s increase in productivity has been measured as one of the largest in the nation over the last 15 years.

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina, titled The Power of Productivity, found that Fresno’s productivity increased by 17.3 percent in the last decade and a half.

That increase is the sixth largest among the nation’s 50 largest cities.

The study defines productivity generally as the level of economic output generated for a given amount of input.

That output is seen in Fresno’s GDP, which has grown by $18 billion since 2007, including $3 billion in the last two years.

Over the last 10 years, Fresno has also had its unemployment rate drop from 17.5 percent to 5.8 percent this last October.

And while Fresno’s poverty rate remains high at 20.6 percent, it has declined from a peak of 27.4 percent in 2014.

“In 2007, Fresno was third from last in our productivity rankings,” the study reads. “However, a painful reshuffling during and following the Great Recession to advanced manufacturing and its traditional reliance on agriculture, which – thanks to heavy mechanization – can be very productive, pushed its ranking up to spot number 36.”

Fresno’s per capita income has also grown nearly 70 percent in the last 15 years.

California Competes Tax Credit Program

The California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) is an income tax credit available to businesses that want to locate in California or stay and grow in California. Businesses of any industry, size, or location compete for over $180 million available in tax credits by applying in one of the three application periods each year. Applicants will be analyzed based on twelve different factors of evaluation, including number of full-time jobs being created, amount of investment, and strategic importance to the state or region.

Application Period Timeline: For the remainder of the 2022-2023, applications for the California Competes Tax Credit will be accepted during the following periods:


Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual (CCM) and the Citrus Research Board (CRB) have received more than $1 million in new federal funding for critical research programs that support the U.S. and California citrus industries. Last week, Congress passed the 2023 Appropriations bill, which includes funding to help stop the deadly citrus plant disease Huanglonging (HLB) that has ravaged citrus production in Florida and other parts of the country.

The $1 million in new funding was approved to establish a citrus breeding program at the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) field station in Parlier. “The commitment of the citrus industry to delivering quality research and innovation for all farm use has taken a big step forward with the support of congress funding the citrus breeding program in Parlier,” said Justin Brown, CRB Chairman.  The funding will be re-appropriated annually.

The program, which was championed by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Representatives Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and David Valadao (R-Hanford), will identify new citrus varieties best suited for changing climatic pressures such as drought, consumer taste preferences and resistant to pests and diseases such as HLB. Parlier’s new program is an expansion of the existing national USDA ARS citrus breeding program in Florida, which focuses on varieties with higher yields, increased disease resistance, improved color and a longer shelf life. Based off of these advancements in Florida, the CCM and the CRB saw the need for a similar program in California that would work with unique environmental conditions of the state’s production regions.

CRB, a grower-funded organization aiming to further the industry’s research priorities, has committed $500,000 toward establishing the new breeding program in Parlier to bring additional representation to California’s industry. “The addition of the breeding facility in Parlier will make the ARS Citrus Program a truly national project,” said CCM President and CEO Casey Creamer. “We look forward to watching the growth of this program and its collaboration with the UC breeding program to find solutions to the issues California citrus growers are faced with every day.”