California grew by 332,000 people between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013, to total more than 38.2 million, according to official population estimates the California Department of Finance released. The growth rate of 0.9 percent and the 332,000 numeric gain are the largest for California since the pre-recession year of 2003-04.

Riverside County’s population growth was estimated to be 17,987 (0.8 percent) people, the sixth greatest in the state, but the county’s smallest increase in three years.

Riverside County’s population is estimated to be 2,267,760 people. Los Angeles County, which includes 26 percent of the state’s population, grew by 74,334 people. Although the birth rate itself continues to decline, California births were slightly more than last year. Births less deaths, called natural increase, remain a primary source of the state’s population growth. The natural increase of 266,000 is composed of 507,000 births minus 241,000 deaths.

Net migration includes all legal and unauthorized foreign immigrants, residents who left the state to live abroad, and the balance of hundreds of thousands of people moving within the United States both to and from California. Net migration added 66,000 persons to California last year.

Since the national census on April 1, 2010, the state has grown by 951,000 persons. Much of this growth has been concentrated in urban coastal counties, plus a few valley counties. Several smaller counties in more remote areas of California lost population last year.

Population estimates the Department of Finance produces are mandated in the California Constitution and various codes. Population estimates are developed using aggregate data from a variety of sources, including birth and death counts the Department of Public Health provides, number of drivers licenses and drivers license address change data from the Department of Motor Vehicles, housing unit data from local governments, school enrollment data from the Department of Education, and federal income tax return data from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

J.P. Crumrine can be reached at [email protected]