Did pandemic really trigger mass exodus from California?

Biggest movement happened within state though Q4 saw 267K people leave, report finds

Los Angeles /
Mar.March 16, 2021 12:15 PM

A prevailing narrative of the pandemic has been that more Californians have left the state, and moved to places with lower taxes, cheaper housing and more space. But is it true? Well, it’s complicated.

From October through December, 267,000 people left California compared to just 128,000 who moved in, according to a study by the California Policy Lab.

But the organization, part of the University of California, found no evidence of “a pronounced exodus from the state” last year. The study did find evidence that residents are moving around within the Golden State.

“To date, the pandemic has not so much propelled people out of California as it has shifted them around within it,” the report read. The Los Angeles Daily News first reported the findings.

San Francisco saw the largest year-over-year loss of residents. From March through December, the net number of people leaving the city jumped 649 percent compared to the same period the year before. Around 85 percent of those people stayed within the region, and some headed to the suburbs, intensifying the demand for homes and pushing up prices.

The rising cost of living in many parts of California has motivated people to leave long before the coronavirus hit. In Los Angeles County, an average of 57,000 more people left than moved in from 2010 to 2017.

A late 2019 study found that half of Californians have thought about leaving the state, with most of them citing the high cost of housing as the reason.

A separate recent study also found that the much-publicized trend of New Yorkers leaving for Florida during the pandemic has been greatly exaggerated. Only a small percentage of Manhattan residents relocated permanently to Sunshine State last year, according to U.S. Postal Service data. And as vaccinations amp up, many might be returning — or changing their plans to move in.

[LADN] — Dennis Lynch 


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