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LOS ANGELES -- Surging Latino and Asian populations accounted for virtually all of California's population growth during the past decade, new census data showed on Tuesday.

In the decade spanning 2000 and 2010, Latinos grew by 28 percent to 14 million in the nation's most populous state, while Asians grew even faster -- by 31 percent -- to reach 4.8 million.

In contrast, non-Hispanic whites decreased by 5 percent and the state's African-American population dipped by 1 percent.

Over the decade, California's population grew only 10 percent to 37.3 million, ranking just 20th nationally and lagging behind other western states such as Nevada and Arizona.

It is the first time the nation's most populous state has failed to pick up additional congressional seats after a census, and many demographers say Asians and Latinos helped save the state's political clout.

"If it weren't for the Latinos and the Asians, California's influence in DC would have decreased," said Arturo Vargas, executive director for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Demographers say Latinos are growing faster than other ethnic groups because many Latinos are of child-bearing age while the rest of the population tends to skew older.

California has also benefited from immigration from Asia and Latin America, even while local residents have left for other states in search of cheaper housing and jobs.


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Over the last decade, the state's inland areas grew as Californians moved beyond the pricey coastal region. But demographers say that migration may have slowed in recent years since the economy slumped.

The data will be used by a state commission to redraw congressional and state legislative districts in California.