Here’s Why California Is Losing Population for the First Time

California is suffering a major demographic inversion, a shift that threatens both the state’s economic future and the durability of its progressive model.

The numbers speak for themselves: The population of the Golden State has begun to decrease For the first time, with new data from the state Treasury Department showing a loss of 173,000 inhabitants in the year ended July 1, 2021 — a number that includes more than 56,500 pandemic-related deaths, mostly older Californians.

Net domestic migration hit a decade low, skyrocketing from a loss of 34,000 in 2012 to 277,000 in 2021. Over the past 10 years, California has lost more than 1.625 million internal immigrants — more than the population of Philadelphia. In total, more than 2.7 million people — a population larger than the cities of San Francisco, San Diego, and Anaheim combined — have moved to other states from California than the other way around in the past 20 years, and immigrated without also makes a difference.

Many state media and political establishment emphasize that demographic decline is mythical story” concocted by red-state haters. It cannot. America’s 20th-century state that attracted domestic migrants is losing millions of them in the 21st century.

This isn’t the Rust Belt of the 1970s, but migration out of the state and especially its urban areas appears to be accelerating. Between 2000 and 2020, Census Bureau estimates indicate that the Los Angeles metro lost 2.2 million net domestic migrants, the San Francisco subway 400,000, the San Diego subway 200,000 people and the San Jose subway 400,000 people — even if the rest of the state has a net income of 600,000 people.

Some California boosters consoled themselves by stressing that those who left were mostly poor or old. But an analysis of IRS data from 2012 to 2019 shows that 85% of those who leave are between the basic income age of 25 and 64. In 2019, the largest proportion was among internal migrants. net, 27%, in the 35-44 age group. , while 21% are aged 55-64. At the same time, the state is seeing a decline in the number of young newcomers who have traditionally fueled California’s innovation and entrepreneurial economy.

In fact, Los Angeles from 2013 to 2017 trailed only New York City in terms of millennials’ biggest net loss, notes Brookings Many young people now choose Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, and Denver supermarkets, as well as Riverside-San Bernardino, Sacramento and smaller inner megacities in California. The days when California could depend on accumulating brain energy seem to be over. In the 2010s, California’s percentage of residents with a college degree (BA or higher) of 25 or more ranked 34th among states, lagging behind the national rate increase and well ahead of its peers. major competitors such as Florida and Texas.

Importantly, this is Not a major exodus of the poor. According to IRS data, only 14% of those earning less than $25,000 among those earning less than $25,000, while those earning more than $100,000 accounted for 38% of migrants (and leave rates are even higher for those earning more).

As more and more Californians enter their thirties, middle-class migration is likely to accelerate. About half of state residents have considered leaving the state, according to a 2019 UC Berkeley Poll.

The mood has not changed during the pandemic with more than a half of Californians now saying they’re considering moving out. In Los Angeles, according to a survey by USC, 10 percent planning to move out This year. More recently, another survey, this one from the Public Policy Institute of California, found that almost two thirds Californians think children today will be poorer than their parents.

Housing costs, according to recent Berkeley Poll, by far the biggest factor cited by people wanting to move, with more than 70% of Californians taking it as “a very serious problem.” Since 1970, median home values ​​adjusted for income in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose have more than doubled compared with major cities outside of California. Even less expensive furniture markets such as Riverside-San Bernardino, Sacramento, and Fresno are increasingly unaffordable compared to municipalities outside of California.

This is especially important for young families. Despite other experts’ suggestions, the vast majority of millennials and Gen Z want to be homeowners. Based on a recent study, the average family in San Jose or San Francisco will need 125 years (150 in Los Angeles) to collect the down payment; in Atlanta or Houston, the number is 12 years. Based on recently Survey AEI, California is home to six of the nation’s worst markets for first-time homebuyers.

While the pandemic may not hit California as deadly as others, affordable housing will be crucial at a time when many workers – including 50 percent of Silicon Valley – be able to work remotely from low-cost and low-congestion locations. The state’s hostility to suburban and suburban development, a key ingredient in sky-high property prices, directly increases housing prices and rents, while also potentially reducing available workforce even for the strongest remaining parts of the economy.

Disadvantaged minorities and foreign-borns are also heading for exits, or simply not coming. Based on California’s path to unity, more than 30 percent of Californians — including 40 percent of African Americans and 50 percent of Hispanics — lack sufficient income to meet their basic living expenses. Incomes for African Americans and Hispanics rank between 48 and 50 nationally, while home ownership rates are also among the lowest. In terms of income adjusted for the cost of living, African-Americans in California are on par with those in states known for poverty like Mississippi and Louisiana, and lower than Texas, Virginia or Michigan, according to the study. to be published next month by Chapman University.

California’s Latino population grew by only half the national rate from 2010 to 2019, while California’s Black population grew by just 0.8 percent, well below the national rate of 7.2 percent and even lower than the rates of Florida and Texas. Over the past two decades, the African-American household population has decline in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

There’s also been a relative drop in the foreign-born population, which has buoyed California’s demographic boat for years. Los Angeles, according to a recent study we did Heartland Forward, caught in the net refuse in terms of foreign-born populations over the past decade while rivals like Dallas-Ft. Worth, Nashville, Houston, Phoenix and Las Vegas posted double-digit growth, reaching 30% in some places.

Perhaps the most worrisome in the long run is the rapid decline of families. California’s coastal metropolitan areas have particularly small proportions of school-age children. Of the nation’s 53 major metropolitan areas in 2019, San Francisco ranked 52nd (leading only Pittsburgh), San Diego 42nd, Los Angeles 38th and San Jose 33rd. As of 2007, fertility rate nationally fell from 2.1 to 1.6 but California’s fell faster, from 2.2 to about 1.5. Notably, Latina women experienced the largest drop in California and now also have a fertility rate below replacement of 2.1.

Long considered an icon of young energy, California is aging amazingly. Between 2010 and 2018, California aged 50% faster than the rest of the country. By 2036, elder would be a larger proportion of the population than those 19 years of age or younger.

For generations, the Golden State has represented a model for America’s future. Whether it’s movies, muscle cars, the sex revolution or fashion, Californians always feel we’re “where it is.” But if no policy changes, state-signed surfboards could be replaced with walk-in boards.


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