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Census knowledge reveals how many individuals left San Francisco within the pandemic

A lot has been written about the so-called “Bay Area exodus” during the pandemic — the floods of people who fled the region’s high prices and frenzied lifestyle for places like Bozeman, Montana, and Austin, Texas, for an easier, more affordable life.

The latest data from the US Census Bureau shows that people did indeed leave the San Francisco Bay Area counties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley metro area saw the third-highest number of residents in the country packing up and moving between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, with a net migration loss of 128,870 people. By comparison, New York-Newark-Jersey City recorded a net migration loss of 385,455, and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim saw 204,776 people leave.

Where did the people in the San Francisco metro area go? The census didn’t specify where people moved from a certain area, but we can assume some of those people may have gone to Texas, Arizona or Florida. The data shows that Texas had “four of the top 10 largest-gaining metro areas.” Of the metro areas, the largest net domestic migration gains were Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler (66,850), Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (54,319), and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (42,089), the US Census said in a news release.

On a more granular level, San Francisco saw the sixth-highest numeric decline among counties across the country, with its population shrinking from 873,965 in April 2020 to 815,201 in July 2021, marking a 6.7% decline. Numeric decline is “the difference between the population of an area at the beginning and end of a time period,” the US Census said, and it takes into account births and deaths and people moving into and out of an area.

Santa Clara County saw the seventh highest numeric decline with the population dropping by 50,751 residents, and Alameda County the ninth highest with a 33,797 person drop.

Many Bay Area-based companies made it easy for people to pack up and move, allowing employees to relocate and work remotely. Google said last month that more than 14,000 of its workers transferred to a new location or went fully remote during the pandemic, with 85% of applications approved. Google didn’t specify the number of Bay Area employees that left the area, but the company is based in Mountain View with offices all around the region.

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