As California’s population grew to 39.4 million this year, the birth rate dipped to an all-time low, according to data released Monday — a decline that some say could dent future economic growth and prosperity.

The move toward smaller families is a national trend that’s played out for at least a decade as women put off having children until later in life. In California, the recession of the late 2000s, a lingering economic recovery and the state’s exorbitant real estate market have created fresh obstacles for young couples looking to settle down.

“It’s not like Millennials are all of a sudden different,” said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California’s School of Public Policy. “What’s different is they came of age at a really bad time. First, they lose their job opportunities. Second, they’ve been gridlocked by the shortage of housing.

“It’s just been harder to get things in place before having kids,” Myers said.

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