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San Francisco Lost a Greater Percentage of Residents Than Any Other Large U.S. City
Tuesday, July 05, 2022

San Francisco Lost a Greater Percentage of Residents Than Any Other Large U.S. City

Nearly every large U.S. city lost residents during Covid, but nowhere was that trend felt more acutely than San Francisco.

The city lost 6.3% of its residents from July 2020 to July 2021, the biggest percentage decline among all 800-some cities with more than 50,000 residents, according to data released by the Census Bureau today. That represents a loss of 54,813 individuals.

While San Francisco came in first on the nationwide list, other Bay Area cities also saw big population declines. San Jose, San Mateo, Redwood City, San Leandro, Palo Alto, Union City and Alameda all lost about 3% of their residents in the same time period. Pleasonton, Sunnyvale, Berkeley, Livermore, Fremont and Milpitas recorded smaller losses during the same period, around 2%.

Nationwide, cities with the biggest population growth were in Arizona, Texas, Florida and Idaho. Georgetown, Texas, a booming suburb north of Austin, registered the largest percentage growth, increasing its population by 10.5%. Among cities with over 1 million residents, Phoenix, Arizona, grew the most, at .8%. In California, many inland cities experienced population growth— in particular Sacramento, Riverside, Merced, Modesto and Fresno.

Many of San Francisco’s residents are office workers who were able to work remotely during Covid, said Stanford economics professor Nick Bloom, who studies working from home. The population decline is bad for the city’s government due to lost tax revenue, but it may not be a bad thing for residents, he said.

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“This will dramatically push back on the affordability crisis, and in many ways will take SF back 10 to 15 years, he said. “I’m not sure that’s terrible. If you ask people, there’s a lot of people that will say in 2019 it was too crowded and too expensive.”

San Francisco’s population decline squares with the results from the San Francisco Standard Voter Poll. In that recent survey, 44% of respondents said they planned to eventually leave the city, citing homelessness, the high cost of living and rising crime as the top reasons for looking elsewhere. Of that group, 16% of respondents reported they were likely to leave in the next two years and a further 28% said they were unlikely to stay in the city long-term. 

Anna Tong can be reached at [email protected].
  • As the second most densely populated city in America and one that great at a rapid rate over the last decade, population loss is not necessarily a negative issue. Of course, we need to increase our job and business growth and increase our homeownership rate, but many of the folks leaving may be renters and other temporary visitors with no real ties to the community.

  • Geez with nonfunctional local politics, raging NIMBYISM and abhorrent street conditions that every local egghead seems to think is standard in other cities this sure is surprising…

  • Who wants to stay in a city where their residents are getting slaughtered by armed career criminals ? Drug dealers from Honduras ? Pedophiles? Where their city Mayor and Sups think this is OK because these criminals are only killing because they are hungry and need to kill to feed their family members.

  • SF has ~800K residents. It’s rank #14 in the list of cities by residents but has the crime rate that is as high as NYC (8M people).

  • I gave up. We left the East Bay due to the unhealthy life style. Crime and “homelessness” are out of control. The filth, the ugliness, the destruction happens wherever I went. People generally were so mean, uncaring, and intolerant. People living in such close quarters and limited parking just is not healthy. We chose a neighborhood where there is space between homes, people take pride in ownership, and people are so friendly and inclusive. We are happy; our neighbors are happy,

  • Don’t believe that our population dropped. Trump again ffffed the count to screw Democratic cities . As was done in 80, 70 & 60 by GOP presidents. I headed the 1990 count in SF and spent half my time fighting attempt s to destroy my staff’s good work. We managed to show the first population increase in 30 years. I suspect strongly the same thing in 2020.

  • Nobody here talks about the biggest elephant in the room. People moved to areas where covid restrictions were much lighter. Those areas, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, saw massive population growth over the pandemic. Perhaps shutting healthy people out of restaurants and gyms and hairdressers for a year over fear that it might spread to 90 year old nursing home patients was a dumb policy that made people leave for places where these services they use were available, if they could afford to. Add that to a summer of rioting and a homeless population that is not only allowed to behave in antisocial and destructive ways, but prioritized by government over pleas of working residents to correct this, and it starts to make sense why people are leaving SF in droves.

  • Only left-leaning fools can somehow blame this on Trump. It is your pathetic policies that cause people to flee. Of course tech is one component, but that tells only a portion of the story. I do not know a single person who has said they wanted to come visit SFO anymore. The city is disgusting, so stop blaming others.

  • Has nothing to do with politics, it’s just the free market, too many people in CA means the housing is too expensive (despite the high paying jobs). People move to places with lower housing demand (lower prices) especially in an economy where you can keep your high paying job but live in another city or state. The city in the US where residents are fleeing the fastest is Pine Bluff, Arkansas – solid red city in solid red state, it’s lost 20% of its population pin the last 10 years and continues to do so. Job market sucks – that’s the way the free market works. Red states like Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, W Virginia, etc continue to lose people and have for decades, mainly because of no jobs despite some of the cheapest housing in the country – free market folks!

  • Interesting article… BUT San Antonio is over one million and grew by a larger percentage than Phoenix.

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