Leaving California: 135,000 more people left the state than moved here in the past year

Annual growth numbers for the state of California were reported today and they show the state had the lowest level of growth in more than a century:

The California Department of Finance, which monitors the state’s population data, found that between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, California saw a net gain of only 21,200 new residents — a 0.05% growth rate not seen since 1900. As of July, the state’s total population was 39.78 million.

Over that period, Los Angeles County reported a net loss of 40,036 people, more than any other county in the state.

State officials suggested the lower numbers this year were largely due to the pandemic which kept people who might otherwise have moved here, either from other states or from overseas, from doing so. There were also 14,000 fewer babies born this year compared to last year. Finally, the devastating wildfires which wiped out thousands of homes and businesses forced a lot of people out of the state who may not want to return.

But there’s also a cultural aspect to some of this. So far this month a significant portion of Hewlett Packard announced it was moving to Houston, Oracle moved its headquarters to Austin and Elon Musk announced he had also moved to Austin, though Tesla and Space X are still based in California.

But it’s not just major companies leaving the state. As Jazz pointed out last year, about a third of Californian’s who responded to a poll said they’d thought about leaving the state, with Republicans much more likely to have seriously considered it than Democrats. The Associated Press reported today on one such Republican who is leaving San Francisco behind:

Matt Frinzi carried out his exit strategy on Tuesday, when he finished packing up his BMW X3 and left his home in San Francisco for Reno, Nevada — a state that does not have an income tax. Frinzi has lived in California for 25 years, saying when he moved to San Francisco in the 1990s he thought it as “the premiere city in the United States.”

“I wouldn’t give you a nickel for it now,” he said.

Frinzi said he came from a working class immigrant family in New Jersey, building a nice life in the medical business. Now, with some in the state Legislature pushing for a new “wealth tax” on the state’s highest earners, Frinzi said it was time to leave. The coronavirus pandemic furthered his resolve to move, he said, because of “government overreach,” including the state ordering businesses like restaurants and hair salons to close.

“You’re going to think I’m a right-wing kook. I’m really not. I’m a reasonable Republican,” he said. “I believe in the Constitution of the United States, and it’s unrecognizable in the state of California, particularly in San Francisco.”

So many people are leaving that long distance moving companies have set up special websites designed to appeal to Californians looking for greener pastures in other states. I wrote about it back in September. Here’s a report on the trend from CBS Los Angeles.