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Fewer People Are Moving to California in What Should Be a Surprise to No One

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

The state of California has it all. Warmer weather, beautiful nature scenes, the entertainment industry, high cost of living, growing homeless encampments, overbearing COVID restrictions, etc. Despite all of what California has to offer, fewer people are moving to the Golden State.


Researchers from the California Policy Lab found 38 percent fewer people moved into the state, the trend most notably starting during the beginning stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States last year:

"At the end of September 2021, entrances to California were 38% lower than at the end of March 2020.1 Exits, following a dip in the first half of 2020, stood 12% higher at the end of September 2021 than at the end of March 2020 — representing a return to a steady pre-pandemic rate of increase of approximately 4% per year since 2016. These two trends have combined to more than double net domestic migration away from California, defined as entrances from other US states minus exits to other US states...These trends are present throughout the state. Since the end of March 2020, new entrances to the state have dropped in every California county, and when Californians move, they are slightly more likely to leave the state than they were before the pandemic began (true for nearly every county)."

Researchers noted the Bay Area stood out in their findings:

"Since the end of March 2020, new entrances to Bay Area counties have dropped more quickly than in other parts of the state. Before the pandemic, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties were the only net receivers of population from other US states. Today, all California counties lose population to domestic migration. In addition, whereas in every other economic region the move rate fell since the pandemic began, Bay Area residents moved (to any destination) at higher levels (up 8%, to 4.2%), driving a 21% increase in Bay Area exits."


Even with the lack of new residents coming into California, the study's authors said, "There is still no evidence of a pronounced exodus from the state."

"I guess I was a little bit surprised to see that entrances had fallen so much. It wasn't so much that we saw it in a particular area. For me, the surprise was that this was a statewide phenomenon," co-author Evan White told KCRA.

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