Los Angeles, CA
Chip Martin
Chip Martin
May 13, 2021

Los Angeles Loses Residents as California Population Declines for the First Time


For the first time ever, California has seen a decline in its population in 2020. The population saw a 0.46% drop according to the New York Times and this is due, in part, to the pandemic.

With a rise in unexpected deaths from the Coronavirus and the Trump administration limiting any kind of immigration into the United States during this time, California saw more leaving than coming in this past year.

A decline in population to the state is not new though. California has been on a steady decline of people coming to live there for decades, mainly caused by the high price tag that comes along with living there. With remote working and learning, many now are moving out of the expensive coastal towns to inland cities that are cheaper.

One of the most populated cities in California and even the United States, Los Angeles, saw more residents moving out than in this year as well.


San Francisco

San Francisco, CA

California is the most populated state in the United States and has been for quite some time. The gold rush that prompted mass migration to California in the beginning has now turned into a tech empire of Silicon Valley and the home of the rich and wealthy.

The appeal of the Golden State has lost its charm over the years though, with many people leaving because of its high price tag of living there. The effects brought on by the pandemic though only amplified the population loss.

California saw a loss of over 182,000 people in 2020 according to reports from January 2021. This comes just after the U.S. Census Bureau announced a meager population growth in California that resulted in the state losing a congressional seat.

Pandemic Effects on California Population in 2020

Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, CA

Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, CA

The effects of the pandemic were the biggest reasons why California saw a decline in population for the first-ever. The death toll from the Coronavirus and limitations on immigration were the biggest aspects to contribute to this.

Around 51,000 people died due to the Coronavirus in California alone. This was a 19% increase in the typical death rate in California that was seen over the last three years.

The Trump administration as well halted most issuing of visas which limited immigration into California. Immigration is what usually offsets most loss of population from those moving out of the state, but in 2020, the number of immigrants coming into California was only a quarter of what it usually is.

Along with international immigration, births in the state help offset any population loss, however, this is now not the case anymore. The birth rate in California, as well as across the country, has gone down due to many women choosing to have kids later in life.

California Population on a Steady Decline

The decline in population is not a sudden occurrence if you look at the trends from the past few decades. Though the death toll and lack of immigration had a huge impact on the population, people have been leaving California more and more every year.

Many California officials, like Gov. Gavin Newsom, say that the decline was mainly due to the pandemic and will be on the rise again this year. Though this may be the case that some positive growth will return this year, it will not be much.

The cost of living in California has been driving people out of the state for years as it is constantly going up every year. The cost of homes has gone up exponentially in the hot housing market that has been seen all throughout the nation in the later half of 2020 up until now. The average sale price of a single-family home in California rose to $758,990 in March 2021, a 23.9% increase from this time last year.

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

One of the biggest cities in California, Los Angeles, saw a 1.3% population drop. This is a major change as Los Angeles is the most popular city to move to in California, showing a change in the trends that has been going on for about 3 years. Among other major cities was San Francisco who saw a 1.6% drop.

In total, Los Angeles lost around 52,000 people out of its population of roughly 3.9 million. Though the number may seem small in comparison to how many are still there, it is still telling of how people are changing their thoughts on living in the city.

Will This Continue?

From an analysis of census data, it shows from 2010 to 2020, that 6.1 million people left California while only 4.9 moved to California. With just under 39.5 million people still living in California, this may not seem like much over a 10-year period, but it does give light to the overarching trend.

The major population decrease caused by the pandemic will subside and California will see some positive growth going forward, but the other underlying deterrents of living in California which have been affecting California’s population growth for decades now, will continue.

Chip Martin
Chip Martin
BA in philosophy, Long Beach State 1974, various trades after college including cabinet maker and boat refinisher, then became a local moving driver in 1976, bought Daly Movers in 1979, managed company, and drove local and long distance until 1995 when I transitioned into sales/office full time. Almost fifty years later Daly Movers and I have sold, worked, and familiarized ourselves with virtually every type of household and O&I relocation.

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