Predicting Population, Housing, and Economic Growth for the MTP/SCS
One of the first steps in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS) is to develop a set of regional growth projections. These projections are an estimate for where the region will be in the next 20 to 30 years in terms of population, employment, and households. The growth projections are a key input as SACOG staff works with local jurisdictions throughout the MTP/SCS process to determine how to strategically distribute the region-wide growth among cities, counties, and communities across the greater Sacramento area to further regional and local objectives.
To estimate growth projections 20 to 30 years into the future, SACOG analysts start by looking at historical economic and demographic trends in the region, state, and nation. Typically, staff focus on the past 10 years however, given the circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project team has paid special attention to the past 18 months to understand the context of the short-term impacts. Data gathered from sources including the California Department of Finance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy were used to inform a set of assumptions. Staff then used a panel of experts as a sounding board to test the reasonableness of their assumptions and used the feedback they received to make refinements to the baseline projections.
The MTP/SCS project team has prepared a draft set of population, employment, and household projections for the region for the period of 2019-2050. These projections offer insight as to what the region can reasonably expect to experience over the next 20 to 30 years. Below is a summary of the findings broken down by category.
The regional job projection estimates an increasingly competitive position for the Sacramento region moving forward. The projection expects the Sacramento region to outpace the state and nation in job growth by 2050, holding 6.2% of jobs in California. The region’s Prosperity Strategy sees growth opportunities in tradable job sectors like food/ agriculture, life science, and innovative mobility.
The most recent Census data shows a slower growth rate nationally compared to the prior projection series. In fact, population growth in the United States is near the slowest it has ever been (on a percentage basis). However, the Sacramento region is expected to have a higher annual growth rate then the rest of the state and nation.
This region, like many others in the state, has struggled to produce housing relative to population and job growth over much of the last twenty years. But, by 2050 regional housing rates are expected to exceed the projected population and job growth rates due to the effort to respond to pent up demand and take advantage of a more supportive policy environment. While there is a significant effort to offer more housing choices to fit changing demographics, the projections see housing affordability as a key issue for the region to track moving forward.
Overall, these combined factors point to a slower growth rate for the Sacramento region relative to the prior projection period. The effort recognizes the future is uncertain and SACOG welcomes any feedback or questions on the draft series as staff works to finalize the growth projections in time for the MTP/SCS’s overarching framework document in February 2022.