California's population decline is showing no sign of abating as residents continue to leave the Golden State in their droves, according to the latest census data.
The state's population decreased by more than 500,000 people between April 2020 and July 2022, with nearly 700,000 more residents leaving than moving in. The state's population decrease was second only to New York, which lost about 15,000 more people than California.
Experts have attributed the exodus to California's high housing costs, long commutes, and crowded urban centers. The state's authoritarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated the trend, with many people opting to work remotely and avoid the draconian restrictions put in place.
The census data shows that nearby states, such as Utah and Nevada, have seen significant population gains as Californians seek a different lifestyle elsewhere. Net migration out of California surpassed that of the next highest state, New York, by about 143,000 people.
California gained about 157,000 more people from natural change, which refers to the difference between births and deaths than New York did. However, the state's population loss was still significant.
In the final year of the two-year span, from July 2021 to July 2022, California lost about 211,000 people, with 113,048 of them from Los Angeles County, the most populous of California's 58 counties. The county had lost around 160,000 people in the previous 12 months, with nearly all of the population loss driven by domestic migration.
As the population continues to decline, Californian policymakers and businesses are grappling with the implications of the exodus, as concerns grow that the state's economy and tax base will be negatively affected.
Meanwhile, many people are fleeing to Republican-run states where living costs can be lower and the risk of further lockdown measures is far smaller. Between April 2020 and July 2022, Texas and Florida had the highest population growth in the United States, gaining approximately 884,000 and 707,000 people, respectively.