Texas? Idaho? The place Californians are shifting

From Soumya Karlamangla

New York Times

If the candidates fighting to succeed Gavin Newsom can agree on one thing, it is that too many Californians are fleeing the state.

At the start of her campaign, Caitlyn Jenner announced that another private plane owner was “packing up his hangar” for Arizona because he couldn’t stand to see more homeless people. Kevin Paffrath, a YouTube star who runs a Democrat, began his candidacy by giving reasons to trade “broken” California for Florida’s greener pastures.

In a recent debate, Republican candidate Kevin Faulconer said that when you name a state, Californians go there, any state.

Sure, there is some truth to what is known as the “California Exodus”: More Californians are moving to other states than from any other part of the country. But this is by no means a new trend – it has been the case for over 30 years.

And while California’s population declined slightly over the past year and the state lost a seat in Congress, it wasn’t because of sudden mass migration to states like Texas and Idaho.

Our stopped population growth was mainly due to falling birth rates and international immigration, as well as a high number of deaths from COVID-19, as reported by my colleague Shawn Hubler.

Even so, during the discussion, I wondered where Californians end up settling down when they leave. So I cracked the numbers.

More than 653,000 Californians moved to another state in 2019, while about 480,000 people moved here from other parts of the country, according to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. (The 2020 numbers are not available, but analysis of other 2020 datasets has produced similar results.)

These were the top destinations for Californians leaving:

  • Texas (82,235 people in Texas had moved from California last year).
  • Arizona (59,713).
  • Nevada (47,322).
  • Washington (46,791).
  • Oregon (37,927).

States Where You Would Most Like To Meet A Californian:

  • Nevada (three of Nevada’s 200 residents moved from California last year).
  • Idaho.
  • Oregon.
  • Arizona.
  • Hawaii.

These are the states that new Californians have moved here from most frequently:

  • New York (37,567 Californians had lived in New York last year).
  • Texas (37,063).
  • Washington (31,882).
  • Arizona (28,226).
  • Nevada (26,433).

For many Californians, the high cost of living makes staying here almost impossible, experts say. The average home price in Texas is $ 329,000, less than half what it is in the Golden State, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage firm.

Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, told me that people moving to California are more likely to have an education, job, and higher income than those who move.

That suggests that high spending is responsible for the departures, but not high taxes as some claim, he said. California tax wealthier people much higher than those on lower incomes, he said.

“If those taxes were the motivation, you’d expect wealthy people to move out,” said McGhee, citing exceptions like Elon Musk, a freshman Texan. “By and large, these are not the people who are leaving the state.”

With all of the scramble over California’s no longer booming population, there is some evidence that we actually prefer it that way.

A poll published in July by the University of California at San Diego found that a fraction of Californians believe the state would benefit from continued population growth over the next decade.

A far higher proportion – more than one in three Californians – had a different opinion: California would be better off shrinking.

This article originally appeared in the New York Times.

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