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California population nears 38 million

SACRAMENTO - The state Finance Department reports that California's population grew by almost 300,000 last year to nearly 38 million people, with the San Francisco Bay Area leading the growth.

The report released Wednesday says four of the five fastest-growing counties are in the Bay area.

The city of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County was the fastest-growing city last year after annexing several other communities. It was followed by Dublin in Alameda County and Lake Elsinore in Riverside County.

While most California cities gained population in 2012, 37 saw their populations decline. Among the largest drops were cities that previously had large prison populations, such as Calipatria in Imperial County and Ione in Amador County.

California's housing market remains at historically low levels but was up 27 percent over 2011.

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