The San Francisco Bay Area’s population continued its yearslong slide in 2022, according to new data released by state officials. But population loss has slowed significantly in the region compared with the exodus that struck in the first years of the pandemic.
About 7,549,000 people lived in the Bay Area on Jan. 1, 2023, according to estimates from the California Department of Finance. That’s about 34,000 fewer residents than Jan. 1, 2022, a nearly 0.5% decrease. That was a slightly faster rate of decline compared with the state overall; California as a whole shrank by about 0.4% in 2022.
The Bay Area’s population has shrunk every year since the pandemic began. The biggest drop came in 2020. From April 1, 2020, to Jan. 1, 2021, the number of residents contracted by nearly 93,000 people, a 1.2% decline.
The pandemic-era population changes were driven by a mass exodus from the Bay Area, spurred by the rise in work-from-home, and the loss of incoming foreign immigration, long a major contributor of residents to the region.
Foreign immigration to California nearly tripled in 2022 compared with 2021, helping to stem the rapid population decline from previous years, according to the finance department.
Before Covid struck, the Bay Area’s population grew every year of the 2010s. Its rate of growth peaked in 2012, when the population increased by more than 100,000 people, a 1.4% increase. Population growth slowed in the following years. By 2019, the region’s population change had almost completely leveled off, with a growth of fewer than 4,000 people, a negligible change in a region that more than 7.7 million people called home at the time.
The new finance department data offers the first statewide look at 2023 population counts and comes two months after the most recent release from the U.S. Census Bureau provided figures through July 2022.
Every Bay Area County Lost Population in 2022
Marin and Napa counties shrunk at the fastest rate during the year, both losing about 1% of their residents. That percentage represented relatively modest exoduses in the sparsely populated counties: Marin’s population shrank by about 2,500 people and Napa’s by about 1,300.
Alameda County's population decreased by the largest number of people, about 8,100, though that represented just a 0.5% decline in the much larger county.
Just 18 of the 101 cities in the Bay Area grew in 2022. Oakley, in Contra Costa County, saw the fastest rate of growth, adding about 740 people for a 1.7% increase in population. Santa Clara added the most people, growing by 2,014 people, a 1.5% growth.
Most Bay Area cities shrank in 2022. American Canyon saw the largest rate of contraction among cities with at least 20,000 people. It shrank by about 290 people, a 1.4% decrease. San Francisco had the largest population decrease, about 5,330, though that represented a 0.6% change for the much larger city.
Find Out the Population of Your City
Use the search bar in the table below to see how the population changed in your community throughout 2022.
Noah Baustin can be reached at [email protected]