California exodus left a gaping population hole. Can the Golden State bounce back?

Despite a recent uptick in population, California still has a long way to go to make up for the exodus that began in 2019 and accelerated during the pandemic.

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Though the state population grew 0.17% in 2023 — the first year of growth since the COVID-19 pandemic — California is still 1.2% smaller than it was in 2019, according to a Times data analysis.

If the state continues to grow at the same pace, it would take almost eight more years for California’s population to reach its pre-pandemic high-water mark.

But experts said it’s still hard to know how quickly the state can rebound.

California’s population declined largely because of a drop in international migration linked to pandemic travel restrictions, deaths from COVID-19 and a large number of people leaving for states with more affordable housing.

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Some factors that led to the exodus are easing. Companies have been calling employees back to the office, making remote work situations more difficult. Major cities such as San Francisco saw some of the biggest increases in population last year, but they were also the hardest hit by the exodus.

Yet high housing prices remain a huge barrier and show no signs of easing.

A new poll underscores the challenges. The survey, conducted by the Los Angeles Business Council Institute in partnership with the Los Angeles Times, found nearly three-quarters of renters and those younger than 35 have given consideration to moving out of L.A. About 37% of homeowners and 26% of those 65 or older have also considered moving, the poll found.

“The state has experienced a chronic housing shortage for decades,” said Sarah Karlinsky, research director for the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley.

The housing squeeze has put people “in substandard housing conditions,” and “a little bit of a breather in the housing market might allow someone who is doubling, tripling, quadrupling up to find a place of their own,” she said.

So many are “teetering on the edge or have fallen into homelessness,” Karlinsky said, and for them the state will need more subsidized affordable housing.

When the state adds to its housing stock, she said, it shouldn’t just be adding high-rises, but also “more affordable multifamily housing options” that might be smaller and cheaper.

Cities may begin to boost their population as businesses end work-from-home policies, but Karlinsky cautioned that “if everybody is driving back into their jobs, then that is going to be incredibly unpleasant.”

On a numeric basis, Los Angeles County has the most ground to make up: It still has about 340,000 fewer people than it did in 2019.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times


  1. Robin Itzler - Patriot Neighbors says

    We can’t just look at the numbers. It’s WHO is replacing those leaving. For instance, if 100 middle- and upper-class Californians leave for red states and are replaced by 100 welfare recipients, the number of residents remains the same. But which group of 100 best helps the Golden state to prosper?

    And what if middle- and upper-class Californians who are leaving are replaced with ILLEGAL ALIEN INVADERS?

    For those remaining in California and trying to save this once glorious state, please look beyond the numbers.

    • Dagoberto says

      Robin you are 100% correct.
      Our taxes will not be enough to pay for all social services for all people coming to California. They know how to take advantage of the system. Most people living California are middle class and the replacement of them are government dependent people.

  2. John Galt says

    In the coming years, unless people wise up and vote to reign in the CARB, among others, we’re going to be hit with a 50¢/gallon ‘tax’ on gas and diesel…going up 50¢ every year, they are trying desperately to force us into worthless EV’s, or even worse, public transportation.

  3. Rottweiler says

    We still have a gapping A-hole and his name is Newsom. Everything the progressive, left touch turns to fecal material. EVERYTHING!

  4. The Devil’s name is NewScum. There is no turning back….the RATS have eaten all good reasons of Creed, Integrity, for what’s left of humanity.

  5. Rico Lagattuta says

    The middle income tax payers are not just leaving because of the cost of buying a home, they are leaving because of the cost of utilities, (gas, electricity and water) gas at the pump, fees, zoning restrictions, congestion and crime. It is going to take many years before the Golden State becomes Golden again.
    Read “Personal Opinions of One Common Man” DUE OUT SOON.

  6. The Event Horizon is behind us. It’s too late. Ahead lies doom and there’s no way out, no way to change course that will make a difference. For 7 or 8 decades the elected leadership in conjunction with a corrupt and greedy public emloyee sector has conspired to thieve and grift California into failure. They’ve succeeded. Dystopia lies ahead. And poverty and crime and shabbiness and no services. Flee while you can.

  7. people are also leaving because the communist fascist racist satanic imbeciles called democrats, have no conscience, morals, content or character, thus the criminals and woke confused trannys and baby-in-the-womb killers are allowed to run helter skelter, and like the democrat party, they’re ‘above the law’ in our kangaroo courts!!! It’s a cryin’ shame our country means so little to the communist Dem Party. Unfortunately, we are a country so great that even her haters refuse to leave!

  8. Bogiewheel says

    The California voter must now understand that torpidity at the ballot
    box has contributed to eradicating democracy and law from this State and, has now, been replaced with a complacent collective Oligarchy.
    The voter, here and elsewhere, must understand the importance of
    the 2024 National election and not allow this Cabal in Sacramento
    to impact National statecraft.

  9. The state has to collapse. The voters cannot make the connection between their votes, and the destruction of the state. The disconnect (total absence of logic and critical thinking) is too vast for a recovery. Public schools have not taught critical thinking for a number of decades.

    I do not wish for collapse, because of the damage; potential loss of life; possible widespread poverty; chaos and lawlessness. However, this administration has already released thousands of felons including mass murderers; pedophiles and the worst of the worst on innocent civilians. Be prepared.

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