by Joel Kotkin
Thursday, 5
May 2022
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15:26

What the New York Times won’t admit about California

The explanation for out-migration from the state is delusional
by Joel Kotkin
Credit: Getty

Even the New York Times has to admit unpleasant realities, like the departure of people from California and other deep blue states. But one thing the paper, and other similarly-minded reporters based here, will never admit: the connection between the California economy and regulation and the rising out-migrations.

The Times accepts that people are leaving in part due to costs, but puts much emphasis on other factors, like the decline in immigration under the monstrous Trump, Covid deaths and falling birthrates. Yet these factors have occurred across the country, and other regions, notably in the sunbelt and the South, have experienced rapid population growth. It turns out that policy choices that California has made seems the likely prime cause for the state’s shocking demographic decline.

This net out-migration, as the Times admits, has been going on for decades. Some people, particularly in academia and the mainstream media, continue to label claims of an “exodus” as essentially false; the LA Times, a good barometer of political correctness on the West Coast, called it “a myth” reflective of the political bias of “haters.” But as we show in our recent Chapman University report, since 2000, California has lost 2.6 million net domestic migrants — more than the current combined population of San Diego, San Francisco, and Anaheim (the cities). 

In 2020, California accounted for 28% of all net domestic out-migration in the nation — about 50% more than its share of the US population (19%).

Totally ignored by the Times, and their cheaper imitators, is a possible connection between out-migration and an economy where, over the last decade, 80% of all new jobs paid less than the median income. On a per-capita basis over the last 30 years, California had lower per-capita job growth in virtually every industry sector than its prime competitor states, and does particularly poorly in higher wage blue collar sectors like construction and manufacturing. Amid some of the great concentrations of wealth in the world, upwards of a third or more of the population is either poor or a pay cheque away from it.

Critically, those leaving are not primarily old folks or the poor without prospects, but increasingly, people who are middle class and in the family years between 34 and 54. This accounts in part for California’s now-below average birth rate, with San Francisco and Los Angeles competing for the lowest fertility rate among the major urban centres.

Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, the decline in immigration during the Trump years did not affect other places as much as California. In a report for Heartland Forward, we could show that while the foreign-born population actually dropped in Los Angeles during the past decade, it grew rapidly in other places like Austin, Dallas, Houston Miami, Nashville as well as some Midwestern hotspots like Columbus, Indianapolis, and Des Moines.

Ultimately the prime causes lie outside the factors focused on by the Times, but are rooted in policies that have made the state among the most expensive. That includes sky-high energy costs, outrageously priced housing markets, as well as the one-party regime’s inability to address surging crime and widespread homelessness. 

Unless progressives begin to address the shortcomings of their own policy agenda, they will continue to be bedevilled by the reasons why people would leave this most blessed of blue states.

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Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
3 months ago

The one-party regime is NOT unable to address crime and homelessness. It’s unwilling to.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 months ago

I lived and worked in the Bay Area for a few years in the early 2000s. A common employment pattern among young tech workers was to spend a few years at one or more of the big tech companies for the experience and contacts, and outside work enjoy the social scene and the natural beauty of northern California.
When it came time to start a family many young professional couples left the state for somewhere more affordable. These couples earned a very healthy income by any reasonable standards but still they couldn’t afford a decent home near the Bay Area.
Amazingly, California recently reported a huge income surplus from taxes and other revenue sources. The state is rolling in money. I don’t see any pressure on the state legislature to drop its progressive agenda so long as the dollars keep flowing in.

M. M.
M. M.
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A commenter wrote, “Amazingly, California recently reported a huge income surplus from taxes and other revenue sources.”

The coffers of Sacramento received a large amount of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. These funds lead to a surplus in the Californian budget.

The ARPA (and its deluge of funds) also produced another effect: high inflation across the country.

President Joe Biden promoted and signed the bill establishing the ARPA. (Hispanics gave a majority of their votes to Biden in the 2020 election.)

Get more info about Hispanics and Biden.

Warren T
Warren T
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Illinois suddenly had a huge uptick in revenue, but when you peel back the onion, a major cause was the Covid money received by the Fed, who simply created the dollars to hand out. And now we have the requisite inflation to prove it.

Jim R
Jim R
3 months ago

As with all communist regimes, they will eventually have to close the border to prevent people leaving.

Warren T
Warren T
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim R

Yes, and then perhaps our famous congressperson, AOC, will rant against building more walls…..until she finally realizes that only some walls are a great idea.

Michael Gillette
Michael Gillette
3 months ago

Conspicuously missing is the heavy handed Covid response.. There have been 10 recent California bills all centered on public health and mandates that really should be reported on. Most have slithered back into the grass, for now, but the intent is clear: your body their choice. Lowering the age of medical consent to 12 moved forward yesterday. A bill to remove the license of doctors who go against the narrative is also advancing.

Howard Ahmanson
Howard Ahmanson
3 months ago

Well, the New York Times probably won’t admit it about New York either!

M. M.
M. M.
3 months ago

The residents of a state (or country) are responsible for its quality of life.

Some demographic groups deserve more blame than other groups for a deteriorating quality of life. In California, we can identify the groups to blame by using the following 3-step process.

1. Identify a ruinous government policy.
2. Identify the politicians who created the policy (in step 1), promoted it, or voted for it.
3. Identify the ethnic or racial groups who gave a majority of their votes to the politicians in step 2.

Using the above steps, we can easily determine that Hispanics consistently give a majority of their votes to politicians who damaged the quality of life in California. The high taxes, the excessive regulation, high rate of crime, etc. are due to Hispanics.

Hispanics are 40% of Californian residents and deserve most of the blame for wrecking Californian society. “Open borders” greatly swelled the number of Hispanics in California and its electorate.

Get more info about Hispanics.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
3 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

Sounds like a fair analysis. I notice that those who downvoted didn’t bother to ID flaws. In fact, when the people rule themselves (thru elected reps) they’re responsible for both successes and failures.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
3 months ago

I suspect that housing costs are the overwhelming reason for all this out-migration. Here in Broolyn there is a similar dynamic. Young newcomers rent an apartment they can barely afford only to move on when the lease is up. At first they’re hopeful about increasing their income but pretty soon they realize that the landlord is benefitting from their efforts more than they are. If they get that raise they were angleing for they don’t just want to give that away, too.
In NYC there seems to be an endless supply of newcomers. But how long can that last?

M. M.
M. M.
3 months ago

The residents of a state (or country) are responsible for its quality of life.

The deteriorating quality of life in California is due to the demographic groups that gave a majority of their votes to politicians who instituted damaging policies.

Governor Gavin Newsom and other Democratic politicians created and implemented policies that increased taxes, reduced penalties for crimes (e.g., shoplifting), etc. Which groups put such politicians into state office?

Hispanics gave a majority of their votes to Newsom and other Democrats. Hispanics are 40% of Californian residents and deserve most of the blame for wrecking Californian society. “Open borders” greatly swelled the number of Hispanics in California and its electorate.

Get more info about Hispanics.

Warren T
Warren T
3 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

Why does one think our Southern border is wide open under the current administration?

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
3 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

Uh, because it is? Biden paused the building of the border wall, busses migrants in their millions all over the country, renounced the “Stay in Mexico” policy, and so on.

Val Colic-Peisker
Val Colic-Peisker
3 months ago

The author should check his facts and concepts. California, with the population of under 40 mil, is not 19% but only 12% of the US population. This would strengthen the author’s argument if the concept of ‘net domestic outmigration’ made any sense (it would, without the ‘net’). And surely, several years (not even ‘seasons’ but year-round) of wild fires scared some people off. One party government? That’s surely a hyperbole.