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The Bay Area’s population has aged and become racially diverse over the past decade

Over the past decade, the Bay Area’s population has aged and become racially diverse — with white residents no longer the region’s largest racial group — while soaring costs housing meant that fewer people could afford to own a home.

Demographic and household shifts, highlighted in recently released U.S. Census data, could have major implications for the local economy and workforce while underscoring the deepening affordability crisis. accommodation in the area.

The data, comparing the results of the 2010 and 2020 censuses, comes with a caveat: it does not fully capture the sweeping societal changes wrought by a once-in-a-generation pandemic. This includes an approximately 3% decline in the region’s population since the onset of COVID-19.

Even so, the data sheds new light on the evolution of the Bay Area and the challenges it may face in the future. Here are four of the main takeaways:

1. The Bay Area is graying

The region has seen a 38% increase in the number of residents aged 65 or older, with people over retirement age accounting for 15% of the population in 2020, up from 12% in 2010, the data showed.

During this period, the total population of the Six Counties Bay Area increased by 9% to nearly 6.7 million people. Data includes results from Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Francisco counties.

An aging population is not unique to the Bay Area and has been a long-term trend, said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto. But as more residents age and retire, Levy said, they will continue to strain the healthcare system and strain the local workforce.

At the same time, the Bay Area has seen a nearly 12% decrease in the number of residents under the age of 5, reflecting falling birth rates that have driven down school enrollment and forced campus closures across the country. the region.

What can be done to ensure that these two trends do not slow down the Bay Area economy?

“Both talk about the need for more housing so we can attract people who can afford to live here,” Levy said.

2. White residents are no longer the largest racial group

Asians have become the largest racial group in the Bay Area over the past decade, growing from nearly 26% of the region’s population in 2010 to just over 33% in 2020, the data shows. This overtook white residents who made up 32.9% of the total population, up from 40% in 2010.

Levy said the change was not surprising given the increase in the number of highly skilled Chinese and Indian workers immigrating to the region in recent years.

“When you look at who’s in the tech industry here, there’s a huge Asian percentage of the workforce,” Levy said, adding that more international migration will likely be needed as the workforce grows. he local work is getting old.

The Bay Area’s black population, meanwhile, has shrunk from more than 6% of the region’s total population to less than 5%. This was likely a consequence of the displacement of black residents from historically African-American neighborhoods in cities like Oakland and East Palo Alto as rents and house prices rose.

The Latin American share of the population, which had surged in recent decades, remained about the same at 23%.

3. Many residents struggle to afford home ownership

In 2020, nearly 53% of all occupied homes in the Bay Area were owner-occupied, while renters lived in 47%. In 2010, 55% of occupied dwellings were owner-occupied, while about 45% were renter-occupied.

The decline was greater in the Bay Area than in California. Only one in five Bay Area residents can comfortably afford the area’s median single-family home price of about $1.1 million, according to the California Association of Realtors. That compares to 40% of people nationwide able to afford the US median price of $371,200.

California had the second lowest homeownership rate behind New York.

To boost homeownership — a key stepping stone to generational wealth — the state should prioritize policies that make it easier to build cheaper townhouses and condominiums after decades of slow development, said Michael Lane, director of housing policy at SPUR, a regional public policy think tank. .

“That’s really going to be key in those higher cost coastal areas,” Lane said.

4. Houses are more crowded

The share of households with two or more residents has increased over the past decade, while the share of people living alone has declined. This likely reflected the fact that more people living with roommates and their families shared the burden of high housing costs – a trend that shows signs of reversing as people have sought more living space in the wake of the pandemic.

California Daily Newspapers

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