Who would leave this?
Who would leave this?

Are People Really Leaving California Over Housing Costs?

In August, a survey found that three out of four renters in Greater L.A. want to move. And last month the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies concluded that a majority of Californians have considered moving because housing costs here are too high. In Oregon, transplants from the Golden State were welcomed over summer with "Go back to California" graffiti spray-painted on a Toyota Prius.

But one number-cruncher says these stories of potential exodus are anecdotal or overblown. Dave Marin, director of research and policy for the California Freedom Coalition, which is behind of one of the state's Calexit proposals, points out that Los Angeles and California are still gaining new residents.

"People leave California at a lower rate than every other state besides Michigan," he says, citing U.S. Census Bureau data. "People say they're planning to leave but they're not actually leaving."

Perhaps bolstering his argument is a recent WalletHub list of "2017’s Fastest-Growing Cities in America," which ranks L.A. 31st among big metropolises. That's a lukewarm result, but it indicates growth in the region. In an email, WalletHub spokeswoman called the showing "above average." The analysis looked at 64 large cities.

The personal finance site, using federal figures, says L.A.'s recent annual population growth is 0.77 percent. Job growth is at 2.21 percent, and venture capital investment is up a whopping 28.57 percent.

Marin, meanwhile, wrote recently that stories of people leaving the Golden State are part of a "great migration myth." "Not only does California have a rock-bottom out-migration rate, we don’t have a particularly high in-state migration rate," he wrote.

The analyst also says that, despite the well-documented squeeze on immigration from Mexico, California continues to attract people from around the world. While domestic moves to the Golden State might be relatively few, people are still coming here. "California is not a popular destination for people from other states," Marin says. "It's made up from people from other countries."

And people are generally staying, he argues.

"People complain about price of housing and say they're going to leave," Marin says. "Some do leave, but California is a huge state. If you look at loyalty to your own state, it's especially high among Latinos and Asians born in California. There's something holding people here."

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