SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – New population estimates show California’s births fell by 18,000 last year, prompting the slowest recorded growth rate in the country’s most populous state. State officials said Wednesday the population stood at 39.9 million as of Jan. 1. The state added nearly 187,000 people in 2018 for a growth rate of 0.47%. The sluggish rate was driven by a significant drop in births and an uptick in deaths as the baby boomer generation ages. Still, California remains the country’s most populous state by far. Texas, the next most populous state, is still shy of 30 million people. The estimate comes as California prepares for the 2020 census, an important head count used to distribute federal tax dollars and influence congressional representation.