LA Is Losing More Residents Than Any County in the US

More Angelenos hit the bricks

reprints


Los Angeles isn’t as popular as it used to be. It leads the nation with the most people leaving.

There are 3,144 counties in the United States, but thanks to L.A. County’s crushing affordability crisis, more people are vacating its borders than any other, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. L.A. saw the biggest drop in population in the nation between July 2021 and July 2022, as more than 90,000 people packed up and left.

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However, the number of expats who ditched L.A. last year is significantly lower than the 180,000 who left the year prior, which was the height of the pandemic when stay-at-home orders were in place and the rate of remote work soared, allowing families and individuals to escape to more affordable communities.

“90,000 is not a huge number,” Dowell Myers, professor of urban planning and demography at the Price School of Policy at USC, told LAist. “It’s not anything to panic about, especially given all the circumstantial problems related to the pandemic.

“The one thing I do worry about is the high housing costs, which are going to persist and will be a deterrent to other people coming here in the future.”

Indeed, three states that typically have cheaper housing — Texas, Arizona and Florida — host the counties that saw the greatest number of people move to them.

During the same 2021-2022 time period, California lost about 114,000 people, meaning L.A.’s exodus could’ve accounted for about 80 percent of the entire state’s. Further, L.A. County lost 142,953 people via net domestic migration between 2021 and 2022, the Census Bureau said, compared to 2020 to 2021 when it lost 194,804 people due to net domestic migration.

L.A. County is still by far the most populous county in the nation, with more than 9.7 million people spread over a vast 4,800 square miles as of July 2022. That’s far more than the 5.1 million people in the second-most populated county in the U.S., Cook County in Illinois (which includes Chicago). But L.A. lost approximately 293,000 residents since April 2020, compared to the 98,000-person drop in Cook County over the same period.

However, when it comes to percentage of population, L.A. is not in the top 10 for population loss. (Perhaps most notable is New York’s Bronx County, which lost about 2.7 percent of its population since July 2021, or 6.3 percent since April 2020 — the seventh-highest rate of population loss in the nation.)

Still, L.A. County’s drop in population still worries some folks.

“Anytime we see a coastal California county losing folks, that’s really a policy failure on our part,” Adam Fowler, founding partner at CVL Economics, told LAist. He also pointed to the rising office vacancy issue hindering the Greater L.A. region. “We’re not sure how that’s going to play out if the valuation of those buildings follows the downward trajectory of what office vacancies might indicate.”

Gregory Cornfield can be reached at gcornfield@commercialobserver.com.