Not too terribly long ago, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said that to meet demand, each year the state needed 100,000 new housing units in addition to the 100,000 to 140,000 that are expected to be built annually, an impossibility in today’s political environment. But, intentional or not, policymakers have hit on a novel approach to solve California’s housing crisis: Make living here so miserable that residents have little choice but to flee.
For the first time since the state Department of Finance began to keep records in 1900, it has reported a population decline. Last year, 182,083 more people moved out of California than moved in. It appears, however, that the losses precede 2020. Using IRS data for an upcoming PRI policy brief on the resident and business flight from California, PRI senior fellow Wayne Winegarden has calculated that from at least 2012, more tax returns, which can represent an individual or a family, have been filed by taxpayers who had lived in California the previous year and moved than taxpayers who had moved into California after filing from another state the year before.
It might be a bit of an exaggeration to call the outfilling of California a “mass” exodus, since the state lost only 0.46% of its population. But the trend, which includes the loss of a congressional seat – another first – due to slow growth from 2010 to 2020, as determined by the Census Bureau, should concern policymakers in Sacramento and local elected officials in California’s largest cities.