California’s population decreased by more than 500,000 people in the years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles Times. In addition, the number of people leaving the state between April 2020 and July 2022 was almost 700,000 more than those moving in.
The report cited unaffordable housing, long commute times, crowds, crime, pollution and homelessness in urban areas as the primary reasons behind this trend. Many who left the state were city-dwellers who sought a safe refuge during the pandemic and have not returned.
Report: California's population dropped by over half a million in two year period after COVID pandemic began https://t.co/CqCqkzIdeu
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While migration away from California is slowing down as the effects of the pandemic end, experts believe it will take many years of positive changes before the state’s population can recover.
One of California’s most significant issues is its inability to retain young people who move there. Many young people flock to California and cannot afford the state’s expensive rental costs before moving to different states with cheaper housing. The rise in remote employment, which allows people not to live near big cities for work, was also a factor in population change.
The surging cost of housing was the top economic factor pushing people out of the state, said UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge director Paul Ong. He added that while salaries are lower in other parts of the country, the cost of housing there is even lower. This means that people in other states enjoy a higher standard of living and a better chance of owning their homes.
The report also noted that Californians are likely to suffer from the state government’s push for “renewable energy” in the coming years, and will face frequent power outages and grid failures.
“They’re going to have to build an outrageous amount of wind and solar in a very short time if they want to accomplish their objectives of electrifying – our whole transportation sector and our whole home heating and cooling and residential sector,” said California Policy Center senior fellow Edward Ring. “There’s a burden to the consumer that’s going to get very heavy,” he added.
Many Californians have settled in neighboring states like Nevada and Utah. However, Utah Governor Spencer Cox, at the annual winter meeting for the National Governors Association in Washington, asked Californians not to move to Utah as it was the fastest-growing state over the past ten years, and its most significant problems were generally growth-related.