Even College Graduates Are Fleeing California’s Biggest Cities
California is expensive, it’s no secret.
Nor is the fact that for years lower paid and less educated workers have moved to more affordable states, like Texas, Nevada or Idaho. These losses have generally been partially offset by net gains among college graduates who can more easily afford California’s high cost of living.
But a New York Times analysis of census data reveals that working-age college graduates have also moved out of our most expensive metropolitan areas, and have been doing so since before the coronavirus pandemic began. Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose passed a significant threshold in 2020 and 2021: more college-educated workers left than moved in.
“When California was already struggling with losing people to migration, it actually retained people with college degrees, but over time that started to change,” my colleague Robert Gebeloff said. , who conducted the new analysis with Emily Badger and Josh Katz. “When the pandemic arrived, it only accelerated everything – and the loss of university graduates increased further.”
The proliferation of remote work has allowed people to reconsider where they live and perhaps keep high-paying jobs based in places like the Bay Area without having to live there.
This trend extends beyond California. The analysis found that a growing number of college graduates were leaving the country’s 12 most expensive metropolitan areas, which include New York, Chicago and Seattle. Affordability has eroded so badly in these places, the analysis shows, that some of the better-educated and better-paid workers don’t want to stay.
The results are particularly relevant in California. Four of the 12 most expensive metropolitan areas are here. Robert told me that the team originally planned to investigate what migration looked like in expensive US cities without focusing on a single state, but that “many of them happen to be in California”.
Their findings are consistent with my recent report that California’s population declined in 2022, for the third consecutive year. One of the reasons cited by demographers was a net exodus of high-income, highly educated Californians to other states.
People fleeing these expensive big cities often move to other larger cities that are a little more affordable, such as Phoenix, Denver and Austin, as well as Sacramento and Riverside. Many of these cities have recently developed some of the amenities you would associate with a place the size of New York or Los Angeles, such as diverse restaurant scenes and revitalized downtown areas.
“Part of that is because the most expensive places have become very expensive,” Stanford University economist Rebecca Diamond said of changing migration patterns. “But also, mid-level venues have become more attractive.”
Jim Dalrymple II left Los Angeles when the smallest, cheapest house he and his wife could find in the city was no longer big enough to accommodate children. They moved in 2019 to a much bigger house within walking distance of downtown Salt Lake City.
“I love LA, thought we’d be there indefinitely – I still miss it,” said Dalrymple, 41, a writer. He recalled the plentiful jobs and affordable housing that once attracted his grandparents, who were teachers, to Southern California.
“I would love to enjoy all of this myself,” he said. “It’s not available to us. And that’s not available to a lot of people.
where we travel
Today’s tip comes from Mike McNiff, who lives in Costa Mesa:
“The Wedge at Newport Beach is a world famous body surfing beach next to the entrance to Newport Harbour. Whenever a big swell hits, TV news crews and large crowds gather on shore to watch brave – and some would say crazy – sailors challenge the beach break, generating “ooohs” and “ahhhs” aplenty. It’s also the starting point for a great walk on the sands of the Balboa Peninsula too far as you want, with spectacular views of Catalina and the Pacific.Even on non-surf days, it’s a great place to sit and enjoy a good book or take in the natural beauty while watching the boats go by. and come into the port.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.
My colleague Jill Cowan reported on the enduring fame of P-22, a puma who became an icon for Angelenos.
Although there have been many famous pets, we want to hear about all the wild animals that have become celebrities for you. Did you have a bird, bear or deer in your community that you grew attached to? Tell us about it and why you became a fan. Email us at CAtoday@nytimes.com with your suggestions.
And before leaving, some good news
The Bay Area is entering a golden age of tacos, with a serious effort underway to represent diverse styles of tacos, reports the San Francisco Chronicle:
“For many taqueros, the pandemic has been an accelerator of opportunity, creating renewed energy around tacos. The movement is a combination of nostalgia and necessity: people looking for the tastes of home, keeping tradition alive, and looking for a way to make some extra money.
Thanks for reading. I will be back tomorrow. — Soumya
PS Here today’s mini crossword.
You can reach the California Today team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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