The Bay Area sees some of the steepest population declines in California

San Francisco Skyline
(Illustration from The Real Deal with Getty)

California’s population declined for the third year in a row in 2022, with nine Bay Area counties experiencing some of the steepest declines, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing a state report.

San Francisco saw a drop of 4,400 people, or 0.5 percent of its population, between July 2021 and July 2022, less than the 3.7 percent drop a year earlier.

The city’s population was estimated at 834,046 people last July, below the pre-pandemic high of 889,783 people in January 2020. It was the lowest level in 10 years, as emigration wiped out seven years of fueled growth. by a technological boom.

The exodus is evident in downtown San Francisco, with empty offices and trains and shuttered restaurants and shops. The city projects a deficit of $728 million over the next two years.

The number of people in California fell 0.54 percent to 39 million, a loss of more than 210,000 people. The third year of losses is attributed to a sharp drop in migration to California and 100,000 total deaths from the coronavirus pandemic since 2020.

The Bay Area’s losses were driven by net internal migration, as many residents left the region and the state in search of cheaper housing, according to the Chronicle.

The nine-county Bay Area experienced some of the steepest population declines, ranging from the loss of 1,800 people in Napa to the loss of 16,500 people in Santa Clara, second only to Los County’s drop of 113,000 people. Angels.

In percentage terms, San Francisco had the smallest population decline among Bay Area counties, while Marin experienced the largest at 1.5 percent, followed by Napa at 1.3 percent, San Mateo at 1.1 percent and Alameda with 1 percent.

San Francisco lost 8,700 people due to net internal migration. San Mateo lost 12,700 people. Contra Costa County lost 16,400 people and Alameda lost 27,300 residents.

Santa Clara County, the most populous in the Bay Area, lost 30,900 people to net internal migration, second in the state behind only Los Angeles County. Santa Clara County’s losses were slightly higher compared to Orange County, a region with 1.2 million more people.

That trend reflected many companies allowing workers to stay remote, along with concerns about affordability, said Walter Schwarm, chief demographer for the California Department of Finance, which published the population report.

The number of births in both California and the US has also declined as many young adults are delaying marriage and children to pursue a higher education, he said. The cost of housing, education and child care, which is extremely expensive in the Bay Area, is also a major obstacle.

Schwarm expects a shift in California’s population in the coming years, as immigration increases and the wave of people leaving slows from pandemic peaks, but he doubts it will return to growth rates of more than 1 percent. the last century.

Widespread tech layoffs, which have affected hundreds of thousands of people around the world, could slow population growth, though the number of layoffs in California remains unclear.

“California’s big-growth era is probably over,” Schwarm told the Chronicle.

—Dana Bartholomew