There is more to California than Hollywood, Disneyland, and the beach. If you’re considering relocating to the Golden State, the following is a thumbnail sketch of the economy, demographics, culture, and lifestyle.
The state of California contributed more to the United States’ gross domestic product in 2020 than any other state in the country.Moreover, growth in California’s GDP outpaced the country’s in each of the past 10 years, including during the pandemic. If California itself was a country, its economy would rank as the fifth largest in the world, surpassing the United Kingdom, India, and France. Los Angeles alone has a larger GDP than Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.
Silicon Valley alone stands as the 19th largest economy in the world. Located just south of San Francisco, it is the national center for high tech industries including hardware, software, semiconductors, biotech, multi-media, and communications. Silicon Valley accounts for nearly half of the nation’s venture capital investments although, in recent years, American companies and entrepreneurs have begun eyeing other U.S. locations as growth centers for future innovation.
Historically, the entertainment industry has been based in Los Angeles, but Hollywood is only part of the Golden State’s wide-ranging arts and entertainment industry. Entertainment and technology converge in California to deliver high-tech multimedia, streaming, and music-sharing services. In 1996, the number of jobs in the motion picture and television industries overtook aerospace (which is declining, but still viable) in California.
In addition to high-tech, entertainment, and aerospace, California boasts several other vibrant business sectors. San Francisco and Los Angeles are gateways to Asian markets, both in-bound and out-bound. Furthermore, many major national and international financial institutions are based in the state.
California leads even Texas in the total number of jobs related to energy, mining, and construction. It also leads in clean tech, with the world’s largest renewable energy power plants and more venture capital investment in green energy than in any other state. Manufacturing, from zero-emission vehicles to aerospace, is another industry in which the Golden State dominates.
California’s Central Valley is one of the largest agribusiness regions in the country.California exports more dairy products, fruits, and nuts than any other state, and overwhelmingly leads in the number of agricultural jobs.
Perhaps more important for someone considering a move here, California is the most visited state in the country. Withits beautiful mountains, beaches, and interesting cities, California has a thriving tourism and recreational businesses.Fun fact: California is the only state that has hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
There are five distinct business markets in the state: San Francisco and the Silicon Valley in the north, and Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego in the south, with approximately 400 miles between the two major business regions.
San Francisco is most like an East Coast City, more compact, with public transportation and walkable neighborhoods. It is known for its Victorian houses, hills, cable cars, fog, and rain.It is the fourth largest city in the state by population. It also is the most densely populated city in California and the second most densely populated major city in the United States, outranked only by New York City.
Silicon Valleyholds a cluster of cities, the largest of which is San Jose, California’s third most populated city after Los Angeles and San Diego. The Valley has a distinct culture dominated by techies and venture capitalists. Though intense, it is more low-key than the East Coast.
Los Angeles is sprawling, diverse, and informal.It is the most populated city in California, and is the second most populous city in the United States. One must have a car to survive in business here. People generally do not live near their work, but rather commute to the business centers from certain pockets of the city such as the Westside, Pasadena, the South Bay, the San Fernando Valley, or beyond. Many of LA’s commuters live east of the city in the fast-growing Inland Empire, which includes San Bernadino and Riverside counties. The Inland Empire’s population is almost half the size of that of L.A. County.
Traveling further south to Orange County and then to San Diego, there is a slower pace and a less urban feel. Orange County is the home of Disneyland. San Diego is on the border with Mexico and is the second most populous city in California. Throughout the state, evidence of California’s Spanish heritage is evident in the architecture and place names.
The 2020 census shows California’s population growth rate slowing but the state still has, by far, the largest number of residents in the country. Almost 40 million people live here now, and the population is expected to approach 50 million by 2050. By then, the state will have both the highest percentage of youth (more than 33% under 20) and of the most elderly in the country.
California’s population is extremely diverse in terms of culture and ethnicity. In fact, the majority of the state’s population are members of “minority” groups with Latinos surpassing whites as the state’s single largest ethnic group in 2014. More than a quarter of California residents are foreign born. The top five languages other than English spoken in California are: Spanish (28.46%), Chinese (2.80%), Tagalog (2.20%), Vietnamese (1.43%) and Korean (1.08), with Asian languages dominating the non-English languages spoken in California.
Sunny California definitely deserves its reputation for great weather, though it is cooler and rainier in the northern part of the state. One of the wonderful things about the state is its varied geography, with beaches, desert, mountains, forests, and just about everything in between.California is known for its special attitude; the wide-open pioneer spirit attracts risk-takers and enables new industries and entrepreneurial businesses to take root here.
We hope the above information assists you in putting some reality into your California Dreamin’!