Demographics Trends drive local market demand for retail, health care, government services, and housing. They also drive workforce availability and preparedness.
Overall, Sonoma (489,819 residents) has grown at a much faster pace than Mendocino (86,061 residents) as illustrated in Figure 1 below. Sonoma County’s population growth is bolstered by its proximity and easy access to the larger Bay Area region. By contrast, Mendocino’s population growth is constrained by its relatively more remote location and relatively low housing production and job growth. Further, while both communities are experiencing an increase in the retired population, Mendocino County is also experiencing a decline in the number of families.
- Recent wildfires have resulted in noticeable population declines in both counties, primarily due to the loss of housing units and people leaving the area for health and safety concerns.
- Both counties are slowly becoming more diverse. Sonoma is wealthier (with 50% higher incomes) than Mendocino County, and Mendocino has double the poverty rate of Sonoma County. Issues of economic equity are more pronounced in Mendocino County.
- Both regions have large, relatively low-density, unincorporated areas which create challenges to establishing an effective market for goods, services, and infrastructure development.
Implications. Focused economic development and job growth are needed to address equity and improve prosperity in the rural areas of Mendocino and Sonoma County.