California’s Population Decline Spurs Exodus

California is seeing a significant outflow of residents, driven by dissatisfaction with the state’s living conditions. Relocation firm moveBuddha found that five of the top ten cities with the highest interest in outbound moves are in California, with Los Angeles and San Francisco leading the list. Frequent brownouts and high living costs are among the reasons Californians are leaving.

The state’s population projections once suggested a rise to 40 million by 2018 and 50 million by 2048. However, recent data shows a different reality. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in March that California’s population had dropped to approximately 38.96 million as of last July, a decrease of 75,400 from the previous year and 573,000 below the peak of 39.5 million in 2020. This decline led to California losing a congressional seat in 2020, with the possibility of losing up to five more by 2030.

Despite a slight population increase last year, adding about 67,000 people, the state experienced a net loss of 47,000 U.S. citizens to other states, even as 114,200 legal immigrants moved in. Governor Gavin Newsom’s policies, including high gas prices and strict COVID-19 lockdowns, have been blamed for contributing to the exodus. The lockdowns have particularly impacted the youth, with 10% of Californians aged 16-24 classified as “disconnected” in 2022, meaning they were neither in school nor employed.

Public school enrollment is on the decline, with 25% of students considered chronically absent, missing at least 10% of school days. The financial burden of moving is evident, with a 26-foot U-Haul truck rental from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, costing $5,040, while the reverse trip costs only $2,514.

This discrepancy highlights the high demand for outbound moves from California. The state’s policies and economic challenges are prompting many residents to seek better opportunities elsewhere, reflecting a growing migration trend out of California.