Bay Area’s migration is real, but Postal Service data shows California exodus isn’t

By Roland Li, Susie Nielson, San Francisco Chronicle, March 2, 2021

“Despite all the talk of people leaving the Bay Area during the pandemic, only a small fraction of residents have left the state, suggesting that reports of an exodus have been exaggerated, according to a Chronicle analysis of United States Postal Service data.

“Only 3.7 percent of the households and businesses that filed address changes in five Bay Area counties from March to November 2020 left California, a total of 4,264 move-outs, according to the data.

“The migration doesn’t add up to an exodus, said Jeff Bellisario, executive director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a business-backed think tank. But it still represents a significant population shift, pushing apartment rents and future tax revenue down, he said. ‘Some of the data points we’re tracking do imply greater movement than in the past.’

“Housing costs remain a huge disparity between the Bay Area and the rest of the country and are often cited as the main reason to move.

“ ‘We still have a high-quality talent pool,’ Bellisario said. ‘We’ve got great world-class universities. This venture capital ecosystem has not disappeared.’ But the rise of remote work represents a new threat as workers can collect California-level wages while living in far less expensive regions.”

Read the full article here, including breakdowns by Bay Area county where people moved and major out-of-state destinations. (~4 min.)

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