About Us - Yolo County’s Statistical and Demographic Profile

Map of Yolo County

History of Yolo County

Yolo County SceneYolo County was one of the original 27 counties created when California became a state in 1850. “Yolo” may be derived from the native Patwin Indian word “yo-loy” meaning “abounding in the rushes.” Other historians believe it to be the name of the Indian chief, Yodo, or the Indian village of Yodoi.

The first recorded contact with Westerners occurred in the late 1830s. These included Spanish missionaries as well as trappers and hunters who could be found along the banks of “Cache Creek” – named by French-Canadian trappers. The first white settler was William Gordon who received a land grant from the Mexican government in 1842 and began planting wheat and other crops.

The towns of Yolo County first developed along the Sacramento River. Its first town, Fremont, was founded in 1849 along the confluence of the Sacramento and Feather Rivers and became the first county seat. Knights Landing, Washington, Cacheville (later called Yolo), Clarksburg, Winters, Esparto, Capay, Guinda, and Davisville (Davis) were all built near waterways. Davisville had the added advantage of being on the path of the newly constructed railroad. Woodland, which became the county seat in 1862, began in a wooded area of valley oaks and was also served by a nearby railroad. 

Current Demographics

Yolo County MapYolo County 1,021 square miles (653,549 acres) is located in the rich agricultural regions of California’s Central Valley and the Sacramento River Delta. It is directly west of Sacramento, the State Capital of California, and northeast of the Bay Area counties of Solano and Napa. The eastern two-thirds of the county consists of nearly level alluvial fans, flat plains and basins, while the western third is largely composed of rolling terraces and steep uplands used for dry-farmed grain and range. The elevation ranges from slightly below sea level near the Sacramento River around Clarksburg to 3,000 feet along the ridge of the western mountains. Putah Creek descends from Lake Berryessa offering fishing and camping opportunities and wanders through the arboretum of the University of California at Davis. Cache Creek, flowing from Clear Lake, offers class II-III rapids for white water rafting and kayaking.

Yolo County sits in the Pacific flyway, a major migration route for waterfowl and other North American birds. Several wildlife preserves are situated within the county. The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area has been recognized as one of the most successful public-private partnerships for wildlife preservation. It provides habitat for thousands of resident and migratory waterfowl on more than 2,500 acres of seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands.

YCVBOver 87% of Yolo County’s population of 201,709 (as of May 2012) residents reside in the four incorporated cities. Davis, founded in 1868, now with a population of 65,052, has a unique university and residential community internationally known for its commitment to environmental awareness and implementing progressive and socially innovative programs. Woodland, population 55,646, is the county seat. It has a strong historic heritage which is reflected in an impressive stock of historic buildings in its downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods. West Sacramento, population 49,292, sits across the Sacramento River from the state’s capital of Sacramento. It is home to the Port of Sacramento which ships out 1 million tons of some of Yolo County’s many agricultural products, such as rice, wheat, and safflower seed, to world wide markets. West Sacramento is also home to Triple-A baseball team, the Rivercats. The City of Winters, population 6,839, is a small farming town nestled at the base of the Vaca Mountains and offers unique shops, restaurants, galleries and live entertainment at the Palms Playhouse. It is close to Lake Berryessa and has become a favorite destination for bicycle enthusiasts.

Chart A – Population of Yolo County 1990-2012
(population 201,071 as of May, 2012) 

Population 1990-2012


Chart B – Population Distribution of Yolo County

Population of Yolo County Incorporated vs. Unincorporated

The unincorporated portion of Yolo County – the area for which the County of Yolo provides municipal services – represents 13% of the county’s total population. The rest of Yolo County receives services from one of the four different municipal governments and from the county.

Note: Source of data for graphs above State of California, Department of Finance, E-1 Population Estimates for Cities, Counties and the State with Annual Percent Change

Chart C – Five-Year Trend in Unemployment Rates: Yolo County vs. California vs. U.S. 

Chart C - 5-Year Trent in Unemployment Rates: Yolo vs. CA vs. US

Chart D – Largest Employers in Yolo County 
Yolo County is the 5th largest employer. 

Company Name

Number of Employees 

UC Davis 11,704 (plus 1,289 seasonal employees)
Cache Creek Casino Resort


State of California 

2,214 (includes 117 intermittent employees)

U.S. Postal Service


Yolo County


Woodland Healthcare


Woodland Joint Unified School District


Raley's Family of Fine Stores


Davis Joint Unified School District


Target Corp


Pacific Gas & Electric Co.




Nugget Market Inc.


City of Davis


Coventry Health Care


City of West Sacramento


City of Woodland


Sutter Davis Hospital


Winters Joint Unified School District


NOR-CAL Beverage Co. Inc


Clark Pacific Corp


Vertis, Inc.


Wells Fargo & Co

99 (plus 27 part-time employees)

Kaiser Parmanente


Woodland Community College

74 (plus 73 part-time employees)

Wallace-Kuhl Associates, Inc.

58 (plus 12 temporary employees


Source: Sacramento Business Journal, May 2012

Comparable Counties 

Chart J - Comparable Counties

Chart E – Comparable Counties: Full Time Employees per 1,000 Residents (FY 2011-12) 

Chart E - Comp Counties FTE per 1k Residents

Property Tax Allocation


The property tax is a tax on certain kinds of property. It is based on the value of the property. The property tax is a state tax administered by counties. Counties and cities do not impose and cannot increase the property tax except as described below. Taxable property includes “real property” (land and the buildings that are on it), as well as things like boats, aircraft and business equipment.

How is property tax revenues distributed?

Proposition 13 transferred the authority to determine where property tax revenues go to the Legislature. Generally, property taxes are allocated within a county based upon the historical share of the property tax received by local agencies prior to Proposition 13. However, those allocations have changed over the years; the most significant change being the ERAF property tax shift. Proposition 1A restricts the Legislature to following certain procedures before allocating property tax from counties, cities and special districts to schools; and before changing the allocations between counties, cities and special districts.

Below is a chart illustrating how a Yolo County property tax dollar is allocated:

Property Tax Allocation

Sales Tax Allocation

Consumers are familiar with the experience of going to a store, buying something, and then having an amount added for sales tax. The sales tax is actually imposed on retailers for the privilege of selling tangible personal property in California. Services are exempt from the sales tax as well as certain items, like most groceries and medicine. Retailers typically pass this tax along to the consumer. The sales tax is assessed as a percentage of the amount purchased.

The “base” sales tax rate of 7.25% has a number of components. For example, the State imposes a basic sales tax rate of 6.25%. This means if you bought an item for $10.00 and the cash register receipt shows 73 cents for sales tax, then about 60 cents of that sales tax goes to the State — 50 cents to the State general fund. About 10 cents come back to local governments (5 cents for counties to fund health social service and mental health programs and 5 cents for counties and cities to fund public safety services). A fourth component exists in certain counties and cities which have increased the use tax rate to fund programs such as transportation, criminal justice facilities and the acquisition of open space.

Locally, counties may impose a sales and use tax up to 1.25%. Cities may impose a sales and use tax at the rate of up to 1%. Payment of the city sales tax is credited against payment of the county sales tax, which simply means you don’t have to pay twice for the local share — only once. Cities keep all of the local sales tax collected within the city; counties keep the local sales tax collected outside city boundaries.

The chart below illustrates how the Yolo County sales tax is allocated:

Sales Tax Allocation


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