New research by the nonpartisan California Policy Lab finds that the number of people moving to California from other U.S. states has dropped 38% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the number of Californians leaving to other states has increased by 12%, which is in-line with exit trends before the pandemic.

Taken together, these two trends mean that population loss due to domestic migration has more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic. Statewide, the share of movers that left California increased from 16.3% in 2016 to 20.3% at the end of September. The exit rate of movers has increased in 52 of 58 California counties.

“Every single county has seen fewer people moving in from out of state since the start of the pandemic, and declines were especially steep in San Francisco County (-53%), Santa Clara County (-52%), and San Mateo County (-48%),” the nonpartisan, Berkeley-centered research group stated in its Dec. 15 report.

Declines in California population were the first since 2016, the report said.

That it was related to the pandemic and its subsequent economic impacts is suggested in the data, report writers stated. “In the first quarter of 2020, 60,000 more people left for another state than moved in and by the third quarter of 2021, that number had more than doubled, with 150,000 net exits.”

The study writers tracked ZIP code changes and then calculated an “exit rate” and how much it had gone up or down.

For Sonoma County, the exit rate was up 20.9% from the first quarter of 2020 — when the pandemic began. The rate was 22.2% for Marin County, 16.9% for Napa County, 1.9% for Lake County, negative 5.6% in Mendocino County and 8.9% in Solano County

In Sonoma County, for example, in the third quarter, 3,140 people moved – 23.4% more than moved in the first quarter of 2020. “Entrances” into the county declined by more than 2,000 in the third quarter of 2021.

Except for San Mateo and San Francisco counties, the “move rate” dropped sharply for counties in the state as the pandemic progresses. By comparison, 852 moves were reported in the third quarter in Napa County, a 19.1% increase over the first quarter of 2020.

For Marin County, the number of people leaving in the third quarter of 2021 was 1,945, a 24.1% increase over the first quarter of 2020. Net “entrances” for the county were placed at a loss of 1,203 in the third quarter of this year, 142% higher than first quarter of 2020.

Here are North Bay move rates – a percentage of people in each county who moved anywhere in quarter three of 2020: Sonoma 3.6%; Marin 3.6%; Napa, 3.1% and Solano, 3.6%.

Data was culled from the University of California Consumer Credit Panel (UC-CCP), a dataset created through a partnership between the California Policy Lab, the Student Borrower Protection Center, and the Student Loan Law Initiative and the credit reporting company Experian. It largely tracks ZIP code changes in those in the data base. The source of data tends to be older, more financially stable, California Policy Lab stated.

“As such, these results are less able to capture patterns of residential mobility among lower-income Californians and among racial and ethnic minorities,” the organization said.

Meanwhile, there’s another report that seems to suggest migration out of California continues to outrun those coming to the Golden State.

U-Haul — renters of moving trucks and vans — ranked California last in the U.S. for the second consecutive year for the largest loss in one-way moving trucks. The state was just behind Illinois, which also held the 49th spot for another year.

Migration to Southern states continues to be magnified by the lingering pandemic, and no state netted more U-Haul customers during the last year than Texas. The Lone Star State narrowly bested Florida for tops honors, according to transactional data compiled for the annual U-Haul Growth Index.

Texas reclaims the No. 1 growth state status it held from 2016-18. It ranked second to Florida in 2019 and Tennessee in 2020.

Tennessee ranked third, South Carolina fourth and Arizona fifth among the top growth states.

Growth states are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus those leaving that state in a calendar year. Migration trends data are compiled from over 2 million one-way U-Haul truck customer transactions that occur annually, the company said.

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