Bay Area Population Change & Migration by the Numbers

Did you catch that Wall Street Journal article, “Americans Up & Moved During the Pandemic”? The big takeaway for San Francisco in the piece was that loss of households doubled in 2020 from 2019. But let’s look a little closer. Their analysis, which was based on permanent postal change-of-address filings in 2020, missed a few things. It did not include foreign migration, which plays a big role in Bay Area counties, nor did it include the effects of births and deaths.

Bay Area Population Change


U.S. census estimates do support the WSJ take that Bay Area populations dropped — by about 52,550 residents or .6%. But over the ten-year window up to July 1, 2020, the same population increased by 533,000 residents, or 6.8% — and that includes the decline from 2019 to 2020.

Typically, these population changes can be chalked up to domestic and foreign migration, deaths, and births.

One-Year Population Changes


Bay Area Household Movement in 2020

Bay Area Population Trends

Bay Area County Populations

A Few Caveats

Of course, it’s important to remember that census numbers are estimates only, and revisions tend to happen. What’s more, these numbers only run through July, which means population changes that occurred after then — when migration numbers probably increased — aren’t reflected.

Interestingly, when Bay Area county residents move out of county, the majority tend to end up in another Bay Area county. The next biggest group moves to counties in California, but outside of the Bay Area, and the smallest proportion leaves the state completely (generally to Washington, Texas, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, or Colorado).

The Takeaway

The bottom line? Well, we are seeing noticeable migration out of California, more so in the city than anywhere else, and unfortunately it probably isn’t enough to lessen the intense competition for homes if you’re a buyer. Want to know how these trends affect your individual situation? Ping me. I can be found on Instagram, Facebook and of course by regular old email.

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