Pandemic Patterns: California is Seeing Fewer Entrances and More Exits

POLICY BRIEF: Pandemic Patterns: California is Seeing Fewer Entrances and More Exits PDF

PRESS RELEASE: New Research Finds Number of People Moving to California from Other US States has Dropped 38 Percent Since the Start of the Pandemic

News reports, anecdotes, and preliminary research have speculated about whether there has been an exodus from California during the COVID-19 pandemic. The implications of population changes, such as federal representation and federal funding allocations, are significant. This policy brief uses the University of California Consumer Credit Panel (UC-CCP), a dataset containing residential locations for all Californians with credit history, to track domestic residential moves into and out of California at a quarterly frequency through the end of September 2021. This brief updates our spring 2021 analysis that used data through December 2020.

Select Media Coverage
San Francisco Chronicle: The San Francisco exodus isn’t over, according to new migration data. Here’s where people are moving (Dec 15, 2021)
Los Angeles Times: Fewer people moving to California, more leaving during the pandemic, study shows (Dec 15, 2021)
Wall Street Journal: California state population declined rapidly during pandemic (Dec 15, 2021)
Sacramento Bee: Has there been a California exodus? Turns out fewer people than usual are moving in (Dec 15, 2021)
The California Report: Interviews with report authors Natalie Holmes and Evan White (Dec 15, 2021)
Washington Post: Opinion: The writing is on the wall. California’s influence has peaked. (Dec 15, 2021)
Kron 4: Fewer people are moving to California now, and it’s worse in the Bay Area (Dec 15, 2021)
East Bay Times: Bay Area a major anomaly in new report about state’s pandemic population changes (Dec 15, 2021)
KPBS: Fewer people moving to California as more leave, new study finds (Dec 15, 2021)
LAist/KPCC: ‘CalExodus’ May Be Overblown, But California Is Losing People — Here’s Why (Dec 16, 2021)
Associated Press: LA, San Francisco Bay Area lost residents during pandemic (Dec 18, 2021)

 

Key Findings

1. Since the pandemic began, California has lost population due to domestic migration, mostly because fewer residents moved here from other states. At the end of September 2021, entrances to California were 38% lower than at the end of March 2020. Exits, following a dip early in the pandemic, have rebounded and are now 12% higher than pre-COVID levels — on pace with pre-pandemic trends.

2. All regions of California saw steep declines in out-of-state entrances since the pandemic began, ranging from 25-45%.

Percent change in entrances to California relative to Q1 2020, by economic region


Source: California Policy Lab analysis of University of California Consumer Credit Panel (UC-CCP) data.
Notes: All figures reflect 4-quarter averages (ending with the indicated quarter) to smooth seasonal fluctuations. A move is defined as having a different ZIP code in the next quarter. Domestic migration only.

3. These pandemic trends were especially pronounced in the Bay Area, and especially in San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties, which saw out-of-state entrances decline by 48-53% since the pandemic began. Over the same period, out-of-state exits from those counties increased by 34%, 26%, and 15%, respectively.

Number of out-of-state entrances and exits, selected counties


Source: California Policy Lab analysis of University of California Consumer Credit Panel (UC-CCP) data.
Notes: A move is defined as having a different ZIP code in the next quarter. Domestic migration only.

 

4. Statewide, the share of movers that left California increased from 16.3% in 2016 to 20.3% at the end of September 2021. The exit rate of movers has increased in 52 of 58 California counties.

5. By the end of September 2021, Californians in most counties were less likely to move than before the pandemic started. However, this trend is not true in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, which saw 27% and 14% increases in move rates, respectively.



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