After a dip, Marin's population is increasing again, but it is last among Bay Area counties in terms of percentage growth, according to a new state report.
The county grew by 1,896 people between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013, according to a new report from the state Department of Finance. That increased Marin's population by .75 percent, bringing the total number of residents to 255,887.

While that increase was the smallest among all Bay Area counties, it was an increase over the previous year when Marin's population dipped by 319 people, a .13 percent drop. Marin now ranks 26th in population among the 58 counties in the state, behind Merced (263,026), and ahead of Butte (221, 955).

The Bay Area is the only region in California where more people are moving in from elsewhere in the United States than moving out, a sign of the economy's rebound and the creation of more jobs here.

"A better economy is generally the reason why you see these population increases," said Robert Eyler, CEO of the Marin Economic Forum — a public-private partnership that works to enhance the county's economic vitality. "But because housing prices in Marin are high, there is a natural barrier to larger population increases."

Eyler expects 2014 to be a good year for the economy, which should result in more people coming to the North Bay.

John Malson, a state demographer who helped produce the Department of Finance population report, also cited the rising Bay Area economy for the increases.

"It shows that, at least population wise, the recession is starting to dissipate, people are coming to employment areas and they're pretty obviously coming to the Bay Area and to some degree Southern California," he said.

Overall, California's population rose to 38.2 million people, an increase of 332,000 from July 2012 to July 2013, a .88 percent increase. While less than 1 percent increase, it is the highest gain for the state since 2003-2004, before the recession.

Much of the uptick was due to a "natural increase" of more births than deaths. In Marin there were 2,319 births in the county during the period and 1,904 deaths.

Foreign immigration to the Bay Area has remained strong, as it did throughout the recession years in the mid 2000s, adding 169,266 people to the state during the 12-month period. Marin saw 713 such immigrants move to the county.

The "domestic migration" numbers are the best indicators of a region's economic health. The statewide numbers continue to be negative, with 103,000 more people leaving California than coming here during the period — a downward trend that has continued since 2001.

Domestic migration within the Bay Area has bounced for the last few years and is now in positive territory, with some 4,800 more people moving in than moving out. In Marin, 768 people moved in. Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa and Santa Cruz counties also enjoyed gains during the 12-month period.

Alameda and Santa Clara counties, plus Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, account for more than half of the state's growth. Most of the growth was due to more births than deaths, but all have positive net migration as well.

Contact Mark Prado via email at The Bay Area News Group contributed to this report.
Population percent change among Bay Area counties, number of new residents:
Marin — .75 percent (1,896)
Napa — .77 percent (1,067)
Sonoma — .79 percent (3,850)
Solano — .93 percent (3,918)
San Mateo — .93 percent (6,837)
San Francisco — 1.08 percent (8,865)
Contra Costa — 1.19 percent (12,777)
Santa Clara — 1.47 percent (26,799)
Alameda — 1.68 percent (25,824)
Source: California Department of Finance.