Report: Californians Moving Within State, Not Leaving

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A report released last week found that warnings about California residents fleeing the state are over-hyped. While it appears that San Francisco residents have left the city at an increased rate, they tend to have moved elsewhere in the Bay Area or the outer reaches of the state, rather than leaving the state, a trend which is consistent with earlier patterns. 

“Approximately two-thirds of San Franciscan movers remaining in the Bay Area economic region and nearly 80 percent remaining in the state… This is consistent with pre-pandemic patterns,” states the new report released by the University of California’s California Policy Lab.

“In short, to date the pandemic has not so much propelled people out of California as it has shifted them around within it,” the report, which is based on credit reporting data and may not have captured all of the movers over the past year, concludes.

During the pandemic, the rate of people leaving and moving into the North Bay have both increased significantly. However, the changes in rates of movement are not as high as other parts of the state.

For instance, 5,539 people left Marin County, a 23 percent increase over the 2019 rate, while 4,948 people arrived, a 21 percent increase over the 2019 rate. All told, Marin County experienced 591 net exits, the number of people who arrived subtracted from the number who left. The rate was 44.5 percent higher than in 2019.

In Napa County, 2,619 people left the county, a 14 percent increase over the 2019 rate, and 2326 people arrived, an 11 percent increase over the 2019 rate. Napa County had 293 net exits in 2020, a 21.6 percent increase in rate compared to 2019.

In Sonoma County, 7,002 people left the county, an 11 percent increase over the 2019 rate, and 6,415 people arrived, a seven percent increase over the 2019 rate. Sonoma County had 587 net exits in 2020, a 67.2 percent increase in rate compared to 2019.

All told, the North Bay was less impacted than many other California counties, according to the report. San Francisco experienced a 428.6 percent increase in net exits in 2020 compared to 2019, a trend which caused the city’s sky-high rental market to deflate for the first time in decades.

While it’s too early to tell what this all means, the California Policy Lab report does indicate that the North Bay’s population may look fairly different after the pandemic than it did back in 2019.

CalMatters visualized the findings of the California Policy Lab’s report here.