CENTRAL Luzon (Region 3) has an 11.39 percent share of the country's total population of 109,035,343 based on the 2020 Census of Population and Housing (CPH).

National Economic and Development Authority Regional Director Gina Gacusan said the population of Central Luzon is now 12,422,172.

"The region is attractive to migrants because we have jobs here. We are very near Manila, so the development [of Manila] radiates to our region," she added.

Gacusan said Central Luzon is seeing a decline in its population growth rate, which means it will have to fund less of its social needs, thus giving it leeway in funding more programs for development.

The country, according to her, would have fewer dependents if the population growth was checked.

"Since more people are working, there are fewer people to be supported by the government. We're all looking forward to that. We are beginning to see the good news now because the population growth is beginning to decline," Gacusan said.

Among the provinces in the region, Bulacan has the largest population with 3,708,890 followed by Pampanga with 2,437,709; Nueva Ecija, 2,310,134; Tarlac, 1,503,456; Bataan, 853,373; Zambales, 649,615; and Aurora, 235,750.

The highly-urbanized cities of Angeles and Olongapo recorded 462,928 and 260,317 total populations, respectively.

The top five most populous component cities are San Jose del Monte with 651,813 total population followed by Tarlac, 385,398; San Fernando, 354,666; Cabanatuan, 327,325; and Mabalacat, 293,244.

Most populous municipalities in the region, on the other hand, are Sta. Maria in Bulacan with 289,820; Marilao in Bulacan, 254,453; Lubao in Pampanga, 173,502; Mexico in Pampanga,173,403; and San Miguel in Bulacan, 172,073.

The largest barangay (village) in the region is Muzon in the City of San Jose Del Monte with 127,506 followed by Loma de Gato in Marilao, Bulacan, 71,258; Dau in Mabalacat City, 62,378; and Gaya-gaya in the City of San Jose Del Monte, 56,896.

Philippine Statistics Authority OIC-Regional Director Arlene Divino said the population count is declared official for all purposes pursuant to Proclamation 1179.

"May 2020 was declared as the National Census Month. However, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the census enumeration was moved to September 2020," she added.

The 2020 CPH figures represent the total number of persons living as of 12:01 a.m. of May 1, 2020 in the 17 administrative regions of the country and Filipinos in Philippine embassies, consulates and missions abroad.

Region 3 recorded a 2.17 percent growth rate in 2015 to 2020 and 1.95 percent in 2010 to 2015 that is lower than the highest population growth rate of 3.65 percent in 1970.

The regional population leaped over 11.6 million from 819,768 in 1903 when the first official census was conducted, and has nearly doubled from the 1990 population figure of 6.3 million.