Northern California cities saw more severe population declines during the pandemic than cities in Southern California, new census data shows, with Bay Area communities particularly affected heavy difference.
The same data shows that many of the biggest growth cities between July 2020 and July 2022 were in Southern California.
Experts say a number of factors could explain the north-south divide. But one reason could be the Bay Area’s tech-rich economy. Dowell Myers, professor of policy, planning and demographics at USC, said many tech companies that allow employees to work from home and potentially “telework” have impacted the Bay Area a lot. more,” leading to a wave of worker migration in Northern California.
San Francisco has made headlines recently due to lost its considerable population over the past two years, but other Bay Area cities also ranked as having some of the biggest population losses.
San Jose lost nearly 40,000 residents and dropped out of the nation’s top 10 most populous cities.
The highest population loss rate among major cities
- San Francisco, -7.1%
- Daly City, -4.4%
- Berkeley, -4.2%
- San Mateo, -4.1%
- San Jose, -3.8%
Experts predict population loss in major cities will slow as the pandemic recedes into the past, but they say the state’s housing crisis – another driving factor – won’t go away anytime soon. .
The majority of the cities that attracted the most people between July 2020 and July 2022 were in suburban and suburban areas across the state. A Times analysis found that these areas, largely in the Central Valley, are also Leading the way in housing growth.
Northern California cities are also likely to be impacted by “less construction and higher home prices,” Myers said.
Census data highlights several trends that have been seen during the COVID-19 crisis. Urban centers like downtown San Francisco became deserted as tech workers stopped coming to work, causing local economic hardship. Some more remote areas like Placer County and the Lake Tahoe region saw an influx of people from cities able to work remotely.
Experts say high housing costs are another important factor in population change. With housing costs soaring, some Californians have used the pandemic as an excuse to sell and move to cheaper areas. But the boom in property prices makes it harder for others to move in.
“Hundreds of thousands more will look forward to living in the Bay Area – if not millions – and Southern California,” said Michael Lens, professor of urban planning and public policy at UCLA. more housing units and perhaps more affordable housing.”
Of the 30 cities, counties and unincorporated areas in California that have shrunk the most, only two are in the southern part of the state, in Kern County: Taft, which lost 5.8 percent of its population, and Tehachapi, which lost four ,6%.
Cities and counties in the Southern California metropolitan area are absent from the top 30 list, with the cities of Commerce and Cerritos each dropping about 4% and ranking 36th and 41st respectively in that ranking.
Of the cities with populations of more than 100,000, three of the five with the highest growth rates are in Southern California, with the remaining two in the suburbs of Sacramento and Fresno.
Highest population growth rate in major cities
- Menifee, 6.0%
- Roseville, 4.3%
- Clovis, 3.2%
- Murrieta, 2.2%
- Jurupa Valley, 2.2%
Menifee, that more than 4,500 houses between 2019 and 2022, has been planned for its development, city manager Armando Villa told The Times in March.
Meanwhile, several smaller cities with populations under 100,000 — many in Northern California — also saw similar damage.
Susanville has lost more than 15% of its population over a two-year period, but that could be because Dixie Fire 2021, burned more than a million acres and destroyed more than 1,400 homes and other structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The town is also expected to lose one of its biggest employers, with factory closures imminent. California Correctional Center.
Fire is also a possible factor in the city with the highest population growth during that time period — Paradise.
The city shows some signs of rebuilding later Campfire 2018increased by nearly 2,000 people after losing about 20,000 people — nearly 85% of all residents — in the deadliest fire in state history.
But Lens said population growth — often related to housing growth — is “not what we’d hope for” in less populated areas.
While growth in more sparsely populated areas is not necessarily a bad thing, he explained, the areas that need housing the most and can grow more productively are the big cities.
During the housing crisis, places like Lathrop or Calimesa are “not in the highest demand,” so new housing may not be so essential and rural areas with growth “are not neighborhoods.” the most economically productive areas of the state,” he said.
Additionally, from a climate perspective, Lens notes that less populated areas lead to longer travel times and are “not ideal places to build housing.”