How Many People Are Leaving California (2023)

Are People Leaving California 2022

Key California Population and Migration Stats

  • From 2020 to 2021, 249,239 people left California.

California Lost People 2021

  • From 2020 to 2021, California’s population declined by 173,173 people.
  • California recently experienced its first population decline in many years.
  • The most popular state for people leaving California is Texas.

How Many People Are Leaving California?

From the most recent data available (2020 to 2021), we know that 249,239 people moved from California.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the California Department of Finance publish annual data from July 1 to July 1 of each respective year. These government agencies track a few key components to calculate population growth or decline. They are:

  • Births and deaths (referred to as “natural increases”)
  • Net immigration (people moving in)
  • Net domestic migration (people moving out)

Combining the components above results in the total population count.

However, only the last two components – net immigration and net domestic migration – result in net migration.

California Net Migration

Here is what net migration looks like for California from 2010 to 2021. Note the net migration losses begin to accrue during the 2014-2015 reporting period.

California Net Migration 2021

Here is a table of California’s net migration statistics:

PeriodNet Migration
2010 to 2011 68,240
2011 to 2012 94,183
2012 to 2013 35,085
2013 to 2014 47,453
2014 to 2015 21,782
2015 to 2016 -14,585
2016 to 2017 -16,052
2017 to 2018 -43,587
2018 to 2019 -130,475
2019 to 2020 -144,780
2020 to 2021 -249,239

Source: California Department of Finance

Is California’s Population Declining?

Given the data in the chart and table above, one might expect an overall decline in California’s population from the 2014-2015 reporting period onward.

However, there is more to the story.

Despite migration losses accruing since the 2015-2016 period, the births and deaths components of the net migration calculation continued to contribute to California’s population growth.

However, after years of that consistent growth, the population recently declined. Based on preliminary findings, from January 2021 to January 2022, California shrank by 173,173 people or -0.44 percent.

California’s Population 2010-2021

Simply stated: the births and deaths component could no longer fill the void created by California’s recent outmigration.

Recent California Popluation Changes 2022

Here is a table of the recent population changes in California’s population:

2010 37,363,368
2011 37,703,593
2012 38,055,785
2013 38,342,642
2014 38,644,802
2015 38,913,507
2016 39,127,855
2017 39,328,926
2018 39,476,064
2019 39,529,566
2020 39,541,786
2021 39,368,613

Source: California Department of Finance

California Population Changes by County

Let's zoom in and explore which California counties gained people and which ones lost people for the January 1, 2021, to January 1, 2022 reporting period.

Numerically, the biggest changes were:

  • Riverside County added 10,938 people (from 2,424,587 to 2,435,525 or 0.45%).
  • Los Angeles County lost 70,114 people (from 9,931,338 to 9,861,224 or -0.71%).

On a percentage basis, the biggest changes were:

  • Yolo County added 3,928 people (from 217,237 to 221,165 or 1.8%).
  • Plumas County lost 632 people (from 19,574 to 18,942 or -3.2%).

California Population Changes by City

Below are the California cities that gained and lost the most people during the January 1, 2021, to January 1, 2022 reporting period.

Numerically, the biggest changes were:

  • Irvine added 8,996 people (from 301,254 to 310,250 or 2.99%).
  • Los Angeles lost 33,785 people (from 3,853,323 to 3,819,538 or -0.88%).

On a percentage basis, the biggest changes were:

  • Paradise added 1,158 people (from 6,137 to 7,705 or 25.55%).
  • Susanville lost 1,302 people (from 14,514 to 13,212 or -8.97%).

Source: California Department of Finance

Where Are Californians Moving?

Naturally, we wanted to know how many Californians moved to another state, referred to by various government entities as interstate Migration, State-to-State Migration, and State-to-State Migration Flows. In the most recent reporting (2019), here is what we learned:

Texas was the biggest winner of California outmigration.

  • Texas 82,235
  • Arizona 59,713
  • Nevada 47,322
  • Washington 46,791
  • Oregon 37,927

To keep this report balanced, we also wanted to know from what states people were moving to California.

Nearly the same number of people move from New York and Texas to California.

  • New York 37,567
  • Texas 37,063
  • Washington 31,882
  • Arizona 28,226
  • Nevada 26,443

Source: U.S. Census

Where Do Californians Want to Move?

Moving company booking site moveBuddha collected some pretty interesting internal data from their moving cost estimate calculator, which gets close to half a million searches a year.

They analyzed search queries from visitors looking to book a moving company on their site. The benefit of this data is that it's predictive of where consumers are interested in moving in the next few months. Hence, it's excellent to consider in conjunction with historical Census data, which has a one-year lag time.

The company studied searcher intent by comparing the searcher's location (moving from) and their search query (moving to). For example, a user in Sacramento might perform a search to find a mover to haul their belongings to Texas.

The company’s resulting Golden State Exodus report found that Californians were most interested in moving to:

  • Texas (16%)
  • Florida (8%)
  • Washington (6.8%)


California’s negative net migration started in 2015 but did not affect the overall state population until recently. In 2021, outmigration finally overtook the number of births that sustained the state’s population growth.

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