Population Drops Even More in California, San Francisco Bay Area, Coastal Southern California. San Francisco -8% from Peak! But 19 Inland Counties Grow

Where is demand for homes supposed to come from when the population keeps dropping like this?

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The Census Bureau released its Vintage 2022 population estimates today. I’m going to focus on California, especially the big population centers in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. The big coastal counties lost population, some of them a lot of population. Some inland counties gained population, but not enough, and the State overall lost population.

I’m going to look at this with an eye on the housing market because these shifts are already having an impact, with the San Francisco Bay Area being one of the worst housing markets in the country with some of the steepest price declines, and with home prices in coastal southern California also getting hit.

Between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022, California’s population dropped by 508,900 people, to 39.03 million, below where the population had been in 2016. The uptick in 2020 was due to the adjustment based on the 2020 Population Census:

Population loss in California over the past 27 months:

  • In the 12 months to July 2022: -113,600
  • In the 15 months between April 2020 and July 2021: -395,000

Over these 27 months, the population change is composed of these factors:

  • Natural (births minus deaths): +201,500
  • Net international migration (in-migration minus out-migration): +171,200
  • Net domestic migration (between other states and California): -871,100

Population Decline in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The nine-county San Francisco Bay Area lost 249,400 people over the 27 months between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022. The population loss was slower in the 12 months through July 1, 2022, than in the earlier period, but continued.

Bay Area County Pop. Loss Births minus deaths International net migration Domestic net migration
San Francisco -65,522 2,654 7,679 -70,929
Santa Clara (Silicon Valley) -65,329 17,263 25,283 -105,884
Alameda (East Bay) -53,334 12,682 16,030 -80,712
San Mateo (Silicon Valley) -35,251 5,250 6,494 -46,010
Contra Costa (East Bay) -8,961 5,940 6,555 -22,397
Marin (North Bay) -6,300 -36 1,299 -7,594
Sonoma (Wine Country) -6,225 -293 832 -6,612
Solano -4,743 2,091 1,199 -8,047
Napa (Wine Country) -3,724 -290 187 -3,653
Total: -249,389 45,261 65,558 -351,838

The nine-county Bay Area population overall declined by 3.3% from the peak in 2020, to 7.516 million, which is below where it had first been in 2014. In the chart, the uptick in 2020 is due to the population adjustment following the Census of 2020:

The two biggest population losers in the Bay Area.

San Francisco’s population plunged by 8.1% from the peak in 2018 to 808,400 in mid-2022, below where it had been in 2012.

The city has experienced crazy boomtown years through 2019, with big price increases, enormous congestion, much hyped office shortages and apartment shortages, which then turned into gluts, as the boomtown craziness faded. But it’s still congested and expensive, and getting into your favorite restaurants can still be tough, but home prices are down a lot, by every measure.

The exodus slowed over the 12 months through July 1, 2022. But this population snapshot does not yet include the large-scale layoffs and hiring freezes in tech and social media that have hit the City since then:

Santa Clara County’s population dropped by 3.2%, from 2020 to 1.871 million in 2022, below where it had been in 2014. The county includes the southern part of Silicon Valley and the city of San Jose. As in San Francisco, this population snapshot does not yet include the effects of the layoffs in tech and social media since mid-2022:

Population Decline in Coastal Southern California.

The big four coastal counties of Southern California have lost population from April 2020 to July 1, 2022. Combined, they have lost 362,400 people:

County Pop. Change Births minus deaths International net migration Domestic net migration
Los Angeles -292,904 30,731 46,198 -363,760
Orange -35,795 13,976 14,840 -64,611
San Diego -22,427 25,205 11,908 -58,429
Ventura -11,238 3,257 1,039 -15,991
Total: -362,364 73,169 73,985 -502,791

But the population of the combined four counties peaked in 2017 and then began dropping, led by Los Angeles County. By July 2022, the population dropped by 452,700, or by 2.6%:

From their respective peaks:

  • Los Angeles: -3.7%
  • San Diego: -1.7%
  • Ventura: -1.3%
  • Orange: -1.1%

Los Angeles County population dropped by 3.7%, or by 373,800 from the peak in 2016, to 9.72 million, which is below the low in this data set going back to 2010, but you get the idea:

San Diego County population dropped by 1.7%, or by 56,300, from the peak in 2018, including the 1,200 souls that the county regained in the 12 months to July 2022, to 3.276 million, below where it had been in 2016:

But the Inland Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino gained population since mid-2020. Combined, they set a new record of 4.668 million people.

In total, 19 counties gained population. Some of them are in the Sierra Nevada and the Foothills, dotted with famous skiing, hiking, and wilderness areas. Two of them extend to Lake Tahoe. Other counties are further north, great places to hang out for a while, when working from home took off in 2020.

But working from home – amid a slew of layoffs – is now furiously being dialed back, and this dialing back is not included in the data yet, and we’ll have to see if some of the folks are moving back to the coastal cities.

Other counties, such as those in the Central Valley, have likely been chosen because they’re easy to get to from the big population centers but are a lot lot cheaper, such as Fresno.

Combined, these 19 counties gained 141,500 people in the period between April 2020 and July 2022, but that wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the population losses in the big expensive coastal counties, and so overall, California lost 508,900 people.

County Pop. Change Births minus deaths International net migration Domestic net migration
Riverside 55,725 10,444 3,064 41,512
San Joaquin 14,002 5,771 2,740 5,305
Placer 13,032 -356 726 12,873
San Bernardino 11,994 16,121 2,797 -8,401
Merced 8,812 3,338 463 4,633
Kern 6,864 9,376 1,293 -3,539
Fresno 6,540 10,694 2,197 -6,981
Yolo 5,710 938 1,930 2,399
Tulare 4,427 5,618 277 -1,894
Madera 3,997 1,466 -48 2,646
San Benito 3,372 719 -18 2,728
Yuba 2,732 885 92 1,752
El Dorado 1,462 -681 266 1,956
Calaveras 1,278 -486 32 1,782
Amador 938 -544 28 1,492
Kings 493 2,258 107 -1,914
Colusa 77 241 3 -184
Nevada 58 -874 6 1,065
Lake 33 -520 42 541
Total 141,546 64,408 15,997 57,771

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  170 comments for “Population Drops Even More in California, San Francisco Bay Area, Coastal Southern California. San Francisco -8% from Peak! But 19 Inland Counties Grow

  1. Phoenix_Ikki says:

    But..but…but…the millennial will save the day…they are all hungry to buy and live in prime SoCal area

    If not, we can count on foreign buyers like from China…aren’t they still all paying cash and overriding in Arcadia or Irvine? SoCal ain’t crashing anytime soon everybody wants to live in traffic paradise /s

    • Moi says:

      South and central Ca, Nevada, Utah, New Mexaco, West Texas , Arizona are natural deserts. Central US has depleted it’s reservoir ground water supply. Natural grassland has been destroyed. Mother nature will take back what is hers. Land there is worthless.

      • joe says:

        > South and central Ca … are natural deserts

        Say you know nothing about geography without saying it.

        • Moi says:

          Sorry Joe, should have clarified the comment was Agricultual. The pysical land and climate is desesrt. Spent 25 years out there camping, it’s heaven on earth.

        • Pea Sea says:

          He knows nothing about geography OR the history of human settlement. But as far as that goes, Southern and Central California do include some massive areas of desert. That desert is not where most of the people live, though–they live in the coastal sage and chaparral regions of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, etc, or the grasslands of the central valley.

        • CJB says:

          You’re both sort of right. Central Valley specifically is a natural grassland plain and swamp. Damming and water interests from early era bureau of reclamation efforts changed natural water flows in native rivers. California itself is the most manipulated water environment on the globe. The tule lake bed ( formerly the largest lake west of the Mississippi) will resemble its natural state after the 50 year storm shows itself around June when the snow melt overwhelms existing lakes and reservoirs.

    • Rogerlagerfeldt says:

      Who wants to live in california…overexpensive and NOT worth it

  2. Harry Stewart says:

    Good grief – let us all pray that those residents that have left do not show up here in Florida with their ” woke ” ideas.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Data is through mid-2022. Those folks have been there for many months and you didn’t notice, LOL?

      • Happy Jack says:

        Believe it or not …… the liberals that show up in Florida whether from California or New York are indistinguishable.

    • Gattopardo says:


      I wouldn’t worry about the expats showing up in FL being woke. It’s likely those who are fed up with wokeness who are heading your way!

      • Whatsthepoint says:

        Exactly! I know a whole extended family – 3 generations and their best friends – who moved out of CA to FL three years ago, and loving it!

        • max says:

          “voting with their feet”

          Margaret Thatcher — ‘The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.’

          In this case run out of human sheep to be sheared with high taxes and environmental nonsence.

      • RH says:

        The rent charged and the price of real estate in the counties losing population are so high and the mean income so low, many Californians must move. That is particularly the case if they have children.

        • Happy Jack says:

          Mean income low in Santa Clara Valley and SF? Come on man …..

        • CaveMan of the people says:


          Young families can not move to or stay in Coastal Cali unless they hit the parent lottery & inherit a house.

          Buddy just retired from the military in SD, best he could do to keep his kids in the same schools & be close to his new job is $6k/mo rent. Other option is buy at $1.5 mil ($10K/mo).

          Real kick in the butt (if you buy) is realizing you are the only person on the street paying any property taxes.

      • Escierto says:

        I hope that people will vote with their feet. Those who want a Christian version of the Taliban ruling their lives can move to Texas and Florida (among other places). Those who believe in the philosophy of “live and let live” with tolerance for those of various races and religions will choose states like California, the Pacific Northwest and the New England states.

        • JD says:

          If you don’t mind getting taxed to death to pay for DEI bureaucrats who help us make sure we’re not offending people with four dads, one of whom is gender fluid, then CA is a great place to live. TX/FL have their issues, but the fact that TX is now on pace to pass CA in population in a few short years, shows that there are many more who disagree with you than agree with you. People vote with their feet.

        • Canazei says:

          Mostly the people who move out of California either can’t afford it or are MAGA creeps.

    • Dhani says:

      Recent article shows majority of Americans supporting a lot of the simple fairness considered “woke.” It’s a shame to have our cities and states so divided.
      Wolf, are there trends on this?

    • Fed Up says:

      We’ve got them in AZ too.

    • American Dream says:


      Lol you still pray??

      Stay woke bro

    • Anthony A. says:

      Stu, they are in Texas too. We can see the horizon turning greener near Austin just before sunset as they overpay for houses and show up with their Teslas!

    • Rick says:

      Define “woke”? I really don’t get it.

      • Pea Sea says:

        Basically “non-racist.”

        • Jon says:

          You forgot about the cultural marxism element that permeates the political philosophy brought on by the Frankfurt School since the 1950s.

        • Thirdeye says:

          Wrong. It’s a social credit scoring system based on a hierarchy of theoretical victimhood, based on identity categories.

      • Expat says:

        “Woke” is acting and thinking like how many people claim a Christian should. Funny how “woke” is pejorative, then.

        • phillip jeffreys says:

          You bet. I’m not even religious – but this is one of the most duplicitous, clueless posts I have read in a long while.

      • Degobah Smith says:

        Neither do they. It’s a parrot thing.

      • Mary says:

        Many of the ideas labelled “Woke” originated in the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King.

        • Sean Shasta says:

          Even earlier – from Buddha, Jesus, and Gandhi.

          People stick to religious labels…cos actually following those teachings is really hard.

        • elbowwilham says:

          Its the opposite of What Dr. MLK preached. Woke is placing outward identity of the person as more important then the inner strength of character. And then you get to find your place on the victim hierarchy. Obviously, straight white men are at the bottom and then it goes up from there.

          “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

        • Escierto says:

          elbowwilham, I am a straight white man and no, we are not on the bottom. I have the privilege of doing almost anything without being interfered with by any authority. I can go wherever I want at any hour without worrying about whether I will be raped or accosted. I am sorry that you feel so persecuted because I know that as a white man, this American society was created for me and those like me. Sad.

        • Sean Shasta says:

          Oh, the irony!

          @elbowwilham talks about “woke finding a place on the victim hierarchy” and in the very next sentence does so himself claiming that a straight white man is at the bottom.

          Talk about a really confused man…!

        • Sean Shasta says:

          @Escierto, I applaud your clarity and candidness. In order to be able to take a first step towards a solution, we should first be able to see things as they are without having a knee jerk, defensive reaction.

        • Thirdeye says:

          If the hierarchy is that of theoretical victimhood, that’s the way the status hierarchy works out. It’s a hierarchy based on an incorrect model of how privilege is allocated, IMO. For example, what percentage of the homeless population are male vs female? And to which sex are the dollars aimed at helping the poor, from direct aid to education assistance, preponderantly allocated? And how do those and other policies around education manifest in the current (recent) imbalance in favor of women graduating from college? Who does most of the hazardous work with risk of workplace injuries? The actual data fly in the face of the cartoonishly simplistic model of “male privilege” that is contained in “wokeness.”

      • Happy Jack says:

        If you have to ask ……

    • Scott says:

      The bedroom communities around Indianapolis have been built by generations of Republicans and most of the time they ran unopposed by Democrats, but over the last 2 years, the woke crap is showing up everywhere. Why did you move here? Because the schools are outstanding, the towns and properties are clean, and you can drive to most places in 10-20 minutes. And yet, the new folks want to change everything like adding low cost housing, apartment city blocks, and extreme sensitivity to everything. Blah.

    • Billy-Bob says:

      FL is poor man’s California.

      What is “woke” anyway?
      Dog whistle for something?

      Please articulate…if you can.

      • Happy Jack says:

        You’re not worth the effort as you know exactly what it is …..

        • CaveMan of the people says:

          Booooo. Wolf Street contributors are worth the effort.

          I agree with Billy Bob, FL is a poor mans Cali with its ocean & nice weather. Wish it had some mountains though.

          I also don’t seem to understand the “woke” as an insult to liberals. Maybe I’m just normal & boring.

    • Kernburn says:

      Sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to “pray’ about…bless your lil heart

  3. Stephen Waters says:

    Mr. Richter,
    Love your research. The graphs are extremely helpful.
    Thank you!

  4. Minutes says:

    I blame myself as I’ve moved out of SF and into an ADU at Kunal’s place. Was such a deal!

  5. Xavier Caveat says:

    They aren’t making anymore Fresno!

    • Phoenix_Ikki says:

      Have you been there? One Fresno is already too many…just wait till you see Porterville..lol

      • Harvey Mushman says:

        My wife and I stayed at a Motel 6 one night in Fresno, back in the late 90s.
        Holy Crap!
        That was a bad idea.

        • QQQBall says:

          @Harvey Mushman.. No kidding. I stayed at a cheap Fresno motel during a record heat wave and garbage man’s strike. At 9pm the stucco walls were still radiating heat and the smell!

        • polecat says:

          Oh Come on! … who doesn’t like sand, grit, and hardpan.

      • Uncle B says:

        Hey I grew up in Porterville, I actually really liked it and didn’t even want to leave. But then I ended up in Grover Beach to go to Cal Poly and haven’t looked back. Haha. Valley still has it’s charm, especially up in the foothills.

        • Kernburn says:

          So many people turn up their nose at Bakersfield and Fresno but people are moving here in droves from all over the world…especially India China Mexico and the middle east. I mean it beats the hell out of Tulsa or Syracuse

    • rojogrande says:

      Fresyes! Gateway to Yosemite! I’ve been going to Fresno for decades due to family. There are certainly areas I’d never go to, but there are some decent places including where I got married.

      • StatisticsJason says:

        North Fresno is actually nice (and affordable). The suburb of Clovis is nice as well. I wouldn’t recommend the South side of Fresno unless you like hearing a lot of gun shots every night.

        • rojogrande says:

          Absolutely. The walking path along the San Joaquin River coming out of Woodward Park is very nice. I go every time we visit. I wonder what the river looks like now with all the flooding. The air quality is generally poor unfortunately and the summer is hot, but otherwise it gets a bad rap. My wife would rather not move back though.

      • Alan Waterman says:

        Merced is the gateway to Yosemite.

        • rojogrande says:

          You’re correct. I guess every community that accesses an entrance into the park is a gateway.

  6. Cas127 says:

    Hmm…anybody else find it a bit weird that intl net migration in S CA is concentrated in comparatively more expensive LA county than cheaper San B and Riverside counties?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Immigrants from Asia (including H1-B visa holders). That’s the big immigration factor in California. They’re educated and make good money, and they live where their jobs are. Nothing “weird” about that.

    • phleep says:

      Try living in San B or Riverside. Lots of dry, rundown, crime-ridden wastelands out there. Then add a long daily commute.

  7. Wolf Richter says:

    From their peaks, as it says everywhere including in the title.

    • Monty says:

      OK. All your tables are 2020-2022, which is what tripped me up.

    • Monty says:

      Wait, I’m actually right about this, at least in the case of Santa Clara.

      Population in 2020: 1,931,026 <– this is the peak
      Population in 2022: 1,870,945

      (1,931,026 – 1,870,945)/1,931,026 = 3.111%
      (1,931,026 – 1,870,945)/1,870,945 = 3.213%

      You reported a decline of 3.2% for Santa Clara. Did you divide by the 2022 population instead of the 2020 population?

  8. Alba says:

    Will be interesting to see how the recent tech layoffs impact CA’s out-migration numbers compared to the pandemic-fueled exodus in 2020. I am old enough to remember how the massive dot com layoffs back in 2002 filled the streets with U-hauls and finally gave those of us who stayed a reprieve from SF’s astronomical rents. It didn’t last … and that was before housing got ‘financialized.’

  9. Cookdoggie says:

    Thanks Wolf. Nice to read some good news at last.

  10. Gattopardo says:

    Damn, shouldn’t traffic be a breeze now with so many gone?? I want my population decline dividend.


    • Augustus Frost says:

      It’s a drop in the bucket. In metro ATL where I live, population has increased to about 6MM from maybe 1.5MM when I first moved here in 1975. Yes, expanded MSA but the change is in the lower populated outlying counties.

      If half the people left, it would still be too crowded. Population was 2.3MM to my recollection in 1992 when I left for a 19 year period. The traffic still sucked back then during peak times, just not all the time any day of the week like now.

      • MoreCreativeMatt says:

        Drove I-85 in GA and SC recently. Yikes. I did that drive often in the 1990s, would put my cruise at 79, and have to slow down only two or three times.

        Georgia had widened maybe 10 miles of I-85 past 985 and seems to be working on another 10-20. But only to three lanes, which still probably won’t be enough, and South Carolina doesn’t look to be doing a darned thing.

        • Craig says:

          Widening roads never solves traffic problems because of induced demand. The only solution is public transport.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      It’s a little better than it was here in SF.

  11. William Leake says:

    While the raw numbers are sometimes useful depending on what you are trying to show, dividing the numbers by population size is a lot more interesting to me.

    You might also want to look very carefully at the methods used by the census to come up with the migration data. For example, large uncounted illegal migration may drastically affect the migration data, usually to an unknowable degree. The birth and death data are usually adequate since these are from vital records. Because there was no population census in 2022 (censuses are every ten years), the population numbers are estimates or based on surveys of questionable value. The 2020 census data itself has many problems with overcounts and undercounts. Professional demographers try not to trash the census too much, since much of their research has to use census data. Having a degree in demography, I see many serious problems with the decennial census and even more problems with intercensal estimates.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      What a pile of BS.

      1. “dividing the numbers by population size is a lot more interesting to me.”

      LOL. RTGDFA That’s why I gave you the percentage changes. All you have to do is read the article, or at least the headline. For crying out loud.

      2. Everyone is included in the Census data, which goes by housing address. How many people live at this address? You should know this. You got one too. Even homeless people are counted. Google it! You’ll see how they do it.

      3. Census was taken in 2020, and every year between the Census, estimates are made based on official records from all over the place, and they’re incorporated into the estimate.

  12. What is real? says:

    As usual Sacramento doesn’t matter and everyone thinks we’re irrelevant. Shout out to Placer, El Dorado and Yuba for keeping the region in the conversation. : ) j/k

  13. Biker Chique 01 says:

    From the article … “But it’s still congested … and getting into your favorite restaurants can still be tough”
    Yeah, everybody is leaving CA, the place gets more crowded.
    (Could not resist applying to the Yogi Berra line….”Nobody goes to that restaurant! The place is too crowded.)

    • bbj says:

      And the other side of that coin is ; Nobody goes there because nobody goes there.

    • Prairie Rider says:

      Since it’s baseball’s opening day:

      “If people don’t come to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”

      Wolf embodies another one:

      “You can observe a lot by watching.”

    • Sean says:

      It’s because more restaurant have closed than people left. Context is everything!!! … more bearish for economy actually than if they were half full.

  14. Gary Fredrickson says:

    Being familiar with some of these rural counties, they have unique reasons for growing, merced with University of California Merced, etc. Some retirees like Amador as Jackson, CA has a hospital. Yuba as a Sacramento bedroom community. Yolo for University of California Davis and a bedroom community, mainly Woodland. However, the real costs are the land is held up in zoning, environmental for “vernal ponds,” mud puddles in clay during the winter rainy season with a “brine shimp” delivered via the excrement of birds. There is no end of land to build in the Sacramento area, so much water it is going to flood.
    None of this is due to “demographics,” real (actual) land use issues. This is all financially driven, rural areas with the Airbnb etc. IMO better issue is to look at REITs, did they buy with Fed free money, overpay driving up the “value” of their previous purchases, and then multiplying the fractional ownership in a wholesale to “investor retail shares.” IMO when those REITs collapse no one will want the real estate. Question may be when will the banks who loaned money to the REITs get their money back or a new higher interest loan, when will people want to get off a sinking REIT. The builders can build an infinite amount of California ticks tacky homes if allowed to do so; nothing between you and an open Sacramento Valley but T111 textured plywood 4 by 8 siding. cheap warped 2 x 4s, and the thinnest sheet rock allowed on a bed of poured concrete foundation/flooring.

  15. Zard says:

    Can’t wait to go back to Cali. Love the weekend driving through the wine country.

    • Bitcoiner says:

      Most of the country wants to live here. I heard CA exodus for a decade now. It’s all BS and hopium for the perma bears that didn’t buy houses when they were cheap (in comparison to now). The entire debate about declining population is a silly joke.

    • Jim mitchell says:

      Hi Zard, I believe Paul Pelosi could use a driver…

  16. FastEddie says:

    I think that the “end” of WFH is still an open issue. Yes, employers are requiring that employees are back in the office anywhere from 2 days per week to 4 or even 5 days per week. At least that’s what they’re demanding.

    The unanswered question is what if employees simply refuse to comply? The employer can terminate, but is that a realistic option if large numbers refuse to go back? How easy would it be for Meta, for example, to replace 15% of its Bay Area engineering personnel (I’m assuming that they are needed). Firing diligent, high performing employees who are effective as WFH may not be the best business decision.

    Allowing a permanent remote / WFH could be a real competitive differentiator for many companies.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      Don’t worry, when the job market weakens substantially into a torrent of job losses, it will be a lot easier to convince people to go back.

      This fake economy isn’t going to last forever and no, the decline in the working population isn’t due to demographics. Nobody stops working due to age now any more than they have since the beginning of time. It’s entirely due to economics where a fake economy and an asset mania have created an artificial labor shortage.

      • American Dream says:

        Eventually this could happen but once you start giving people things it’s hard to take them away. Raises are expected even for mediocre performance but pay cuts nawt happenin

        Especially for top performers. Bottom dwellers will just get fired but people that bring in the chedda will have more power to fight back

      • Flea says:

        Watched video with Daniel martini booth,used to be on fed. Said 10 small businesses are failing a day . Plus conglomerates laying off,this could get real ugly,but businesses need slaves at low rates to continue wealth disparity

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Hear this crap from people like you all the time.

          Go start a business and pay people what you think everyone else should.

          If you already have a business, go buy another one and raise the pay of everyone else to your required minimum.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        IMHO AF, you and WE are going to have to dive deeper than what you suggest is the cause of the current WFH situation.
        While I do NOT dispute your basic concept of ”when the economy drops.”
        IMO there are many more factors.
        Some of those include the many or most of WE the PEONs finally figuring out how child care and elderly care figure into this mixture…
        Others might include continuing efforts to inform ”managers” by any name that some folks will actually be able to perform better when left alone for most if not all of their working time…
        Certainly was my situation when my last really great employer/client realized very clearly that with some of my work, I was TOTALLY more efficient WFH with NO interruptions…
        Certainly going to be fun to watch while these challenges get worked out.
        ((( And, to be sure, I worked from home or my truck for many many decades…)

      • Craig says:

        Isn’t the largest generation (boomers) retiring now?

    • MM says:

      “I’m assuming that they are needed”

      Big assumption; lots of companies realizing they can trim the fat & function fine

      Excess hiring was one of the big malinvestments of the free money era.

    • andy says:

      Meta has like 100,000 employees. What is it they do all day? Censor non-woke posts? Curate website’s food pics collection?

      • VintageVNvet says:

        LOL andy:
        Never been there,,, yet,,, and have no plans to do so,,,
        SUCKER TRAPS is what is out there regarding most, if not all of these so called social media websites…

  17. Richard Arguile says:

    2017 – trendsetter.
    Moved from Bay Area to Carson City, Nevada. Retired so the job situation was not a factor. We looked in the Bay Area for a place to buy in 2017: 30 miles from SF, we were offered a twenty year old 1000 sq ft condo with a parking space for what we could afford. In Carson City, for the same amount we found a brand new single family residence – four bedrooms, two bathrooms and an attached three car garage.- and no HOA! No state income tax. We have not regretted the move.
    Funny anecdote: in downtown Carson City, they are two hour parking spaces and the FINE for staying too long is $!5. In San Francisco, you’d be lucky to find two hour parking for $15.

    • dang says:

      Carson City Nevada is a great place due to it’s proximity to the jewel of the west, Reno. You are eligible to lose your investment in any inhabited part of Nevada.

    • BradK says:

      “In San Francisco, you’d be lucky to find two hour parking for $15”

      Or your car, when you return to find it.

  18. dang says:

    The magnitude of the California squiggles are earth shaking for the poorer rest of the world people imagining themselves there. I admit that my suggestions about what California should do are from an almost zero experience vantage point.

    • Xavier Caveat says:

      Just felt a 1.542!

      • dang says:

        The seismic squiggles are not the perturbations that concern me.

        It is the economic squiggles that concern me. Granted that it is similar to waiting for a normal sound too instigate an avalanche.

    • dang says:

      Never having lived there only felt the gravitational effects. I also misspoke when I suggested that I had no advice for what California should do, beginning with it’s image problem.

      In my view, California is this bumbling, teenage society that has institutionalized the excesses that can be reached by our current national democracy.

      • dang says:

        All the graphics you showed are indicative artifacts of the greatest experiment in currency devaluation in at least modern history.

        Well, the libertarian streak has run up against the brick wall; cessation of speculative cash inflow that is less than the cash outflow.

        I am afraid that is the script forward for California which will be mild compared to fate that awaits the uninsured, unemployed, surplus craftsman in the less fortunate countries like America.

        • dang says:

          Perhaps, the only way to express what I am saying is relating a true story of the great depression that occurred a moment ago, beginning in 1923 when my father was adopted by a well to do couple. The Father was a well respected, and paid, construction superintendent, who built a fine house for his family.

          Life was everything that the family could have hoped for until the winter of 1928 when the Father died from an appendicitis rupture.

          A slight cash flow from a union pension plan, no social security, or investments and the annual renegotiation of the mortgage loan, the Mother had no choice but to move the family into the garage and rent out the house.

          By 1931, the utility canceled the tenants heat for non-payment and the pipes froze in the 40 below zero time of the year.

          She found work as a janitor in the local school. These are the jobs the QUERTY surfers think should be automated ?

          California is more clueless than they were when Enron gave them a monumental wedgie

        • dang says:

          I’m trying to read the tea leaves as to what economic fortune or not lies ahead for the wage earners. The message is mixed because there is an unpredictable human decision in the chain of probabilities that comprise the basis of any investment.

          Leads me to examine the P/E ratio that the stock brokers were recommending to buy, today. Walmart at a P/E of 25.

          The formal calculation of the P/E has at least three parts;

          The dividend yield, which is 200 bp, the rate of growth of the dividend going forward which is estimated at 3 pct. Calculating the value of these two components could reasonably value Walmart at 12 times earnings. Which leaves the third component that would justify a 1000 basis point premium for a mundane slogger like Walmart is the assumed rate of 10 pct growth until the end of time

          Consensual hallucination ? perhaps

          If we accept that hypothesis then we have to concede that we are still under the spell of a period of excess liquidity. A condition that ” turns the brain to mush”. I concur.

          How bout you, Doctor, do you concur …….

        • Prince Gbanga says:

          Wolf, why do you let this “dang” guy crap GPT-generated blather all over your blog? It’s shameful.

          In my kingdom (I am a Nigerian prince, after all) this would never be tolerated.

        • phleep says:

          “the uninsured, unemployed, surplus craftsman in the less fortunate countries like America.”

          That’s the person who won’t be made redundant by the AI tsunami.

      • Sean Shasta says:

        It is quite impossible for the “unevolved” to understand the “evolved”. It is a vexing conundrum.

        • dang says:

          I suggest it is more than that. It may be the kernel of understanding which can only be judged over the long term.

          Conundrum indeed.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        ”’I am NOT bossy,,, I just know what YOU should do…

  19. Tommy S says:

    Big drop in population in San Francisco, also cuz of destruction of over 50,000 affordable housing units, via Ellis act,etc. Since 2008. I’ve lived in the Mission since 1986, and every block has clearly indentifiable Victorians changed into condos. From three floors of 10 to 15 people, you have one house with made two on each floor.

    • dang says:

      What is going on in San Francisco is like the death of a plant where the rich and famous killed the very soft culture that nurtured them and they now long for the bohemian culture that their fortune is based upon, which they destroyed.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        …gentrification, walking from city, to state, to national levels. (…of course, it’s all happening on one spacecraft, Mr. Musk’s simplistic concepts for terraforming Mars notwithstanding…).

        may we all find a better day.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      As a GC in SF bay area, I and my subs worked on many many RE projects returning places to ”pre WW2” condition ( as well as continuing and repetitive REHABs since mid 1960s of many places needing rehab after renters moved out…)
      When I first lived in Berzerkely, my studio across street from campus was $50 rent, per month…
      Last I looked it was $2500.
      NOT FAIR for young folks these days IMO…
      Time and enough for a really and truly and serious CRASH,,, and may the force bee with you if you are NOT a LL… eh

      • phleep says:

        If the AI crashes mental jobs, having real assets would logically gain in value. My future is pretty well staked on it, as I near retirement.

  20. Bobber says:

    The Redfin search migration data for San Francisco is interesting. During Jan and Feb of 2023, the top 10 geographic sources of inflow generated only 50 searches. The top 10 destinations for outflow generated over 36,000 searches. Much of the search outflow was to Sacramento.

    It seems people really want to get out of San Francisco, most likely because of job losses and likely home price declines ahead.


    • Bobber says:

      I’ll add, I have no idea how the Redfin data is put together. I can’t vouch for its accuracy.

  21. Jay says:

    Nothing to back this up, but I suspect these numbers reflect a more interesting trend: a net loss of poors while the net inflow of the relatively affluent continues unabated. Elon notwithstanding.

  22. franky Sebastopol says:

    I may make for head turning media stories but places like California, Illinois, and New York state “losing” population isn’t really significant considering the population in total. Frankly, it’s a blessing.
    The question is how long before these people return because the “affordable” place they moved to doesn’t have the same level of living standards they’re used to.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      You sound like one of my prior coworkers who didn’t know her quality of life sucked in metro NYC, until she actually experienced life somewhere else.

      I had one discussion with her in late 1997 while on assignment in NYC and then a second one in 1999 in South FL,

      Her family moved near Naples, FL within six months and no, haven’t moved back to my knowledge.

      It’s not an “either” or an “or. The US is a big country with plenty of options. Even more outside the US, including in places you apparently wouldn’t want to live but someone else might.

      • Einhal says:

        There is something to what he says. A lot of people do move to cheaper places and then whine that the services aren’t quite what they’re used to. E.g. “Why is my garbage only picked up once a week?” “Why are the libraries only open until 5 pm?”

        That said, you get a terrible deal in New York, California, New Jersey, and the like for the taxes you pay.

        And those places have made it increasingly inhospitable to conservatives. Basically, conservative states don’t try to make liberals miserable. Liberal states do try to make conservatives miserable.

        That is driving domestic migration, in my opinion.

        • Bob says:

          Really? Conservative states don’t try to make liberals miserable? Ask liberals in Florida who are finding books banned in their school and local libraries, and who are restricting what historical facts can actually be taught. Ask parents of transgender kids here in Texas, who aren’t allowed the care they need. And read about women here in Texas who had to leave the state to get abortion care for non viable, life threatening pregnancies. I’m a Bay Area native who has lived in Houston since 1989. This city has become more and more progressives, while the conservative asshats in Austin keep passing laws that reverse progressive actions by local governments, such as limiting how local governments can run elections that increase vote turnout, or even reversing restrictions on plastic bags… so much for campaigning against government overreach. If I were 30 years younger, I would have serious reservations about moving to Texas.

        • Escierto says:

          Living in one of the most conservative states in the country, you are so wrong. EVERYTHING the Texas state government does is with a view towards impinging on my freedom. Freedom of women over their bodies, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion. The government is controlled by the Christian Taliban and I won’t be surprised when they have a morality police out on the streets arresting women for what they are wearing.

      • phleep says:

        > It’s not an “either” or an “or.

        I agree. My quality of life in SoCal is radically better than anything I see in NYC, outside of the towers of super-rich. I’m thrilled the CA population bubble (expanding grossly since I was a kid) here has tapered off. I would give up a lot of silly amenities for that. But I have great amenities right here: wooded park adjoining here, medical complex 1/2 mile away. Options are many. But showing up late to any bubble is a losing proposition for anyone. I think the South will get there soon.

  23. NYguy says:

    Demand? The psychotic clowns that run that hell hole will just take the properties via eminent domain and give them to the 13% and that will be their reparations. Make Lagos look like singapore.

  24. AD says:

    They left California to move to Boise, Phoenix, Las Vegas, etc., and to work from home in many cases.

    Bring them back to work in California. No more work-from-home free ride.

    Or perhaps put big brother cameras in their home offices and install tracking software on their work work computers.

  25. SocalJimObjects says:

    A couple of easy solutions:
    1. Lockdown plus 6 trillion free money.
    2. Housing Stabilization Funding Program. After the recent BTFP, it’s obvious that any problem can be solved with a new Funding Program from the Fed.

    If either one of those does not get housing prices to rocket to the moon, then nothing will.

  26. Expat says:

    I am curious to know where all the Floridians will go in thirty years when half the state is under water? Arkansas is lovely, I hear.

    • tom20 says:

      They will migrate to the places were it was predicted to never have snow again, were droughts would never end, or were glaciers have melted.
      Adaptable species.

      • Expat says:

        LOL. Try adapting to no food, no clean water, no hospitals, no medication and no machines.

      • Expat says:

        30 years from now the world will be a very, very different place. The end of times won’t happen for another 50-75 years.

        • BobC says:

          Actually, YOUR end of times will come that soon. The human race will bumble and stumble along, just as it always has.

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      “I am curious to know where all the Floridians will go in thirty years when half the state is under water? Arkansas is lovely, I hear.”

      In 30 years?
      I’m guessing a huge percentage of Floridians will have moved into heaven.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        McQueen’s Ghost – made my day, sprayed cafe ‘n all!

        may we all find a better one…

    • phleep says:

      FL insurance costs alone may be quite a head-turner. And one needn’t wait 30 years. That system is under strain.

    • Moi says:

      Odd, boated in central and south FL for many years. Got stuck on the same sandbars, hit the same oyster beds, grounded many times in the everglades and boat ramps. So I suck at Nav at night. Granted South Beach will go down but it’s a heavily overpopulated artificial island. Just never saw sea level rising but continuous over population will cause land subsidence and flooding. My thought is, and I could be wrong, sea level is stable while the Biscayne acquifer drainage, for instance is a problem. Six million people watering their Saint Augustine grass and the malalucas draining the glades can’t be helpful.

  27. bki says:

    I just read about the LA Mansion Tax starting up on April1. It sounded like a timely joke, but maybe it’s a Billionaire Retention Program for those who can’t stomach a multi-million dollar loss on sale price?

  28. Michael Engel says:

    WFH to maturity. Businesses want u back in the office. They will do
    whatever it takes to make it comfortable for u. But if u don’t they will
    cleanse the dirt under the mattresses, layoff the privileged elite to cure
    the commercial bust of their banks. Enough is enough.

    • rojogrande says:

      How do you know and why do you care what businesses want? Lots of different businesses have lots of different needs. I wouldn’t pretend to know what they all want.

  29. Longstreet says:

    Now I see…
    all those homeless are just waiting for the state to empty out.

  30. Jcohn says:

    Where will San Francisco get additional revenues in the future if the population continues to decline ?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      It already has a huge budget deficit.

      • polecat says:

        Just wait till those much heralded reparations take affect.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          Don’t you know the difference between “passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor” and a “report published by a bunch of morons and turned into stupid-ass clickbait by idiotic websites to titillate a bunch of braindead idiots”?

          That was a rhetorical question. You don’t know the difference obviously.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          …this is what happens when one affects an effect…

          may we all find a better day.

    • QQQBall says:

      @Jcohn -consider the population stats. The infants are not paying taxes and much of the int’l inmigration is likely laborers and service workers from Central American. The tax base is escaping and the net decline amount understates the overall impact.

  31. eric says:

    Hi Wolf, could you publish a similar analysis about Illinois? It appears that people continue to leave Cook County (Chicago) and and that this trend accelerated beginning in 2020. Might be interesting!

    Thank you.

    • butters says:

      There might be other bloggers who do the same for IL or Chicago.

      You may want to checkout “Mish Talk”. I have seen him cover IL in some details.

      Not an endorsement of any kind.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      There are 50 states and DC. I’m not going to do all of them. One was enough.

    • tom20 says:

      Cook county was @ #2 for number loss: around 68k

      Did not crack the top ten in percent decline.
      That was surprising, with all the new builds we have done for
      clients leaving chicago.

  32. RickV says:

    “Between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022, California’s population dropped by 508,900 people, to 39.03 million”, or slightly over .5% per year. With WFH and the drought now over in most areas, I would wait a few more years to see it this is a trend or a temporary blip.

  33. Swamp Creature says:

    What about New Jersey. Without a doubt the worst state in the U.S. to live in. High Taxes, pollution, congestion, ect. They have the worst drivers in the US. Worse than Maryland and DC if that were possible. What is the movement of the population out of that state? It must be worse than CA. I don’t even like driving through the state.

    I have a solution. Saw off NJ and let it float out into the Atlantic Ocean.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      I may add, I almost got arrested in NJ for pumping my own gas. I didn’t know that it was illegal to pump your own gas in NJ.

  34. Hollywood says:

    I invested in some income producing property in Los Angeles this year. The bottom is in. The place is booming and young people are flooding back into the area. Especially Asians. There’s no comparison between LA and other parts of the country- weather, jobs, excitement opportunities- it’s the best lifestyle in America. The universities are word class as well.

    As long as they get their politics under control Los Angeles will outperform all other cities in the long run. It may take some time but the tide is turning.

  35. S Jones says:

    “Where is demand for homes supposed to come from when the population keeps dropping like this” = Blackstone, with help from the fed, will be glad to scoop up available homes.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      All the big investors have pulled back. They’re out of this market. They’re seeing what’s going on. They’re not in this business to lose a ton of money. They bought last time after real estate had collapsed, and they bought out of foreclosure at 50% to 70% off.

  36. The Falcon says:

    I am seeing firsthand in SoCal the massive effects of the housing price spike crises that no one talks much about…my kids elementary school had 100 kindergartners 4 years ago, next year they expect only 24. Young families cannot afford the area. We are going to see empty nesters ready to enjoy retirement as grandparents but the kids and grandkids will have moved away to establish themselves in affordable locations.

    • Lynn says:

      A family next to me may be moving. Their daughter and son in law live with them and the daughter is expecting her first child. The landlord just increased their rent by a lot and they’re in negotiations to try and reduce it. If they lose their housing they wont be able to find or afford anything else in the area and may have to go live on another relative’s land, hopefully with a shed or two they can rebuild. They’re very good neighbors, I hope they don’t have to.

      All this while thousands upon thousands of housing units stand empty and rotting.

  37. Natedogg says:

    Is this surprising at least in LA? Paying $1.5-2m for a 100 year old dump house in a mediocre west la neighborhood is just not attractive to most people, when they can pay 1/3 of the price elsewhere for something newer, nicer, and with less crime.

    • cresus says:

      The houses in the hills are still quite amazing if you ask me. And I’m a world traveler. But the nature there is simply astounding. The traffic though…

    • Mike G says:

      The Rent is Too Damn High. It’s that simple.
      California remains an amazing place and culture — if you have money.
      Another factor may be employers, knowing the housing situation, are more remote-friendly than other parts of the country. Probably a tenth of my IT office have moved out of state.

  38. cresus says:

    San Francisco. Used to be one of my favorite places. Always like it if only because it’s one of the rare walkable cities in the US. I visited late last year just for fun. I still enjoyed it but boy oh boy, all those drug addicts completely folded onto themselves in the middle of downtown. the nearly ghost town around market square and the financial district and all those homeless. You feel deep trouble when you see it. Sad, really. I would no longer live there but I still enjoyed some of its still visible past. The wokeness was the worst in the Castro zone and you feel the fight for freedom was lost on the mask zombies. Doubtless multinjected. What happened? Wake up SF we still love you.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Sounds like you’re talking about the Tenderloin, in terms of the addicts. That’s an area of a few blocks with services, including healthcare services, offered for the homeless and addicts, so you see a lot.

      For tourists, the problem with the Tenderloin and nearby streets, including that portion of Market Street, is that some of the more affordable hotels are there, including a Motel 8, and if as a tourist you stay there, it’s not fun. When people, when they make hotel bookings, look on a map and say, OK that’s central, it’s right near City Hall and close to the Cable Car line, looks good. And then they’re shocked when they get there.

      My recommendation is to stay in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. It’s hard to go wrong there. And you can use the Cable Car to go downtown or to Union square or to the theater district. Gorgeous ride at night.

      True, downtown is still kind of a ghost town. Working from home killed it. But it’s beautiful. And there are already some residential buildings on the edge of it, and they’re going to redevelop some of the office towers into residential… this is starting now.

      I walk all over the City. I walked four miles across the City last night. It’s beautiful, it’s safe, I’ve never had a problem. Lowest homicide rate of any major city in the US. But there are a few pockets I avoid at night, and that includes the Tenderloin.

      • cresus says:

        I stayed in the financial district. A beautiful historic building as I like them . Service was super friendly. I loved the public transportation, all of it. It got spooky at time on the Market street trolley but I don’t get scared easily. I walked like a maniac. I will always love SF. If only because of memories. A small world class city.

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