Californians aren’t leaving the state en masse — however they’re leaving San Francisco, research says
The number of Californians leaving the Bay Area has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly from San Francisco. This is evident from a new study published on Thursday.
Despite proposals for a California exodus to other states in recent months, most leaving this region are not moving far, despite the fact that many of the Sierra counties have seen a large influx of migrants from San Francisco compared to 2019.
The proportion of residents leaving the state has increased since 2015 – from 16% to 18% – a trend that continued into 2020 without a “significant increase,” according to the report by the impartial California Policy Lab.
“While a mass exodus from California clearly did not occur in 2020, the pandemic has changed some historical patterns. For example, fewer people moved to the state to replace those who left, “Natalie Holmes, a research fellow at the California Policy Lab, said in a statement. “At the county level, however, San Francisco is experiencing a unique and dramatic exodus that is causing some counties in the Sierras to increase immigration to the Bay Area by 50% or 100%.”
Since the pandemic began, net domestic departures from the Bay Area have increased 178% compared to pre-pandemic trends, with departures down 9% and arrivals down 21% year over year in the last three quarters of 2020 Period in 2019 “, according to the study.
In the last three quarters of 2020, San Francisco saw the largest percentage increase in home exits of any state in the state, according to data.
In the second through fourth quarters of 2020, exits from San Francisco were “31% higher than in the same period in 2019”. The new additions were 21% lower, according to the study. Net exits from San Francisco for the last nine months of 2020 increased nearly 650% compared to the same period last year – from 5,200 net exits to 38,800.
“There’s a trend in most urban areas, but it’s most pronounced in San Francisco,” said Evan White, executive director of the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley.
Part of that flight from San Francisco, White said, could be the result of large offices of large tech companies being relocated to remote work for the foreseeable future. That kind of freedom could have resulted in employees moving to cheaper districts, he said.
Most who left San Francisco stayed in the Bay Area economic region, and around 80% stayed in the state, a trend that is consistent with prepandemic patterns, according to the study. Although the counties and urban centers of the Bay Area in Southern California are the most popular destinations for those leaving San Francisco, the counties in the Sierra Nevada Mountains saw the largest population growth in the Bay Area, especially in the final quarter of 2020.
“It will be interesting to see if these people pull back when the pandemic ends,” White said.
The number of people leaving California usually depends on the amount entering the state. However, the results show that this was not the case in the fourth quarter of 2020 when 267,000 people left the state and only 128,000 entered.
“It doesn’t look like migration will change much for the entire state,” White said. “There is no major migration of people and therefore of companies, and that is probably good news for the state.”
But in San Francisco, he said, the effects were “a little more interesting”.
“As people left, we saw rents go down pretty dramatically,” he said. “If commercial and residential rents go down, we may see companies trying to take advantage of this.”