Making It in the Bay

‘California Exodus' Continues With Bay Area Among Regions Losing Residents: Report

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The so-called "California exodus" continues and the Bay Area is among the areas losing residents, according to a new state report.

But researchers say there are signs that it’s slowing, and housing numbers are going up. 

There’s about 34,000 fewer people in the Bay Area than there were last year, according to the state's department of finance report.

The two biggest reasons why are high housing costs and the acceleration of remote work. As working from home became an option for more people, those people moved to places where homes cost less. 

“The pandemic saw really massive redistribution of people within major urban areas,” said Abby Raisz, research manager at the Bay Area Council.

She said that to stop the exodus, cities and the state need to continue fast tracking housing development. 

“That really all boils down to building more housing and making it easier to build more housing rather than the system we have now where getting a building permit,” said Raisz. “There are a lot of issues there with permitting.” 

This is the third straight year the Bay Area has lost people. 

Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock said declining birth rates and rising death rates are also a factor, and a drop in immigration due to former president Trump’s policies. 

“So we saw far less immigration into Silicon Valley over the past five years, and that’s a big deal because Silicon Valley was built by people coming from other places,” said Hancock.

Hancock said their research shows that of the people who are leaving, about a quarter of them are moving just outside the Bay Area, where housing prices drop. 

“Sacramento, Davis, Manteca, Tracy, and by the way, people who are living in these perimeter areas are still coming into the office two times a week,” said Hancock.

But the state department of finance, which put out the new report, said population decline is leveling off. 

There are fewer deaths now compared to the pandemic, and more companies pulling workers out of remote work. 

Statewide, housing units grew by 0.85% – its highest level since 2008. 

The question now is, will it be enough to slow down the exodus next year or bring people back into the Bay Area?

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