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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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Bay Area Population Growth Leads State

Uploaded: Dec 19, 2015
The California Department of Finance (DOF) released new and revised county population estimates for July 2010—July 2015. Their press release and accompanying documents can be found here under the July Population Estimates section.

web link

The Bay Area highlights are:

--The Bay Area was the fastest growing region in California
--Santa Clara County was the fastest growing county in California and four of the five fastest growing counties were in the Bay Area
--About half of the region’s population growth came from natural increase (births minus deaths) and half from immigration and migration from other states and parts of California
--Prior year population growth estimates were revised up as the amount of domestic outmigration from the region was revised downward

The details include:

--In the past five years the region has added 438,500 residents for a 6.1% gain compared to the state (+4.6%) and nation (+3.8%).
--Santa Clara County added 126,200 residents for a 7.1% increase. The second fastest growing county since 2010 was Alameda (+6.9%) followed by San Francisco (+6.7%). San Mateo County added 42,300 residents for a 5.9% increase.
--Average regional population growth of 87,700 was split between natural increase of 41,700 and net migration of 46,000 per year.
--Net migration was split between immigration of nearly 36,000 per year and domestic in migration of just over 10,000 per year.
--Santa Clara County had an average population increase of 25,200 per year split between natural increase of 14,400 and migration of 10,800 all but 900 per year from immigration
DOF estimated that population growth between 2010 and 2014 was more than 200,000 above previous estimates with most of the increase in Southern California and the Bay Area. The major change was in estimates of migration between the Bay Area and other areas. Last year DOF estimated average domestic migration was 1,400 per year while the 2015 estimates show an average of 10,400 per year.

The implications deserve a blog by themselves but a couple of points are worth noting.
Previous estimates of the accumulated regional housing shortfall need to be revised upward as 1) the region grew by more than previously reported and 2) growth is continuing to outpace housing production.

Also the idea that people are leaving the region in large numbers is not supported by this data. Since 2010 more than 10,000 people a year have moved here from the rest of the nation than left.

One probable explanation for what is happening in the housing market is that some residents are doubling up (roommates, moving in with parents, families sharing housing) in response to high prices/rents and moving to less expensive parts of the region.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Details, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Dec 19, 2015 at 6:23 pm

On a percentage basis or absolute? What area added most people on absolute basis?

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 19, 2015 at 7:25 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ details

The largest regional absolute growth was in Southern California with a gain of 758,700 residents but only a 4.2% growth.

The largest county growth was in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties
(Santa Clara was fifth largest in absolute population growth). The other four counties are larger than Santa Clara and had smaller % growth.

You can check the data yourself at the web link in the blog.

Posted by confused, a resident of Green Acres,
on Dec 20, 2015 at 12:27 am

Steve, I'm confused. If the population in Santa Clara county is increasing more than other regions, if these persons are housed, this implies that there has been more growth in housing stock (or greater occupancy rates) here than in other regions of the Bay Area and country. This does not imply, as far as I can see, that we should build more housing to accommodate even more people unless we desire that the population growth increase even more. Please explain.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 20, 2015 at 11:20 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Hi Confused,

I am sure some other readers share your question. I will respond in the next day or two but now want to give other readers a chance to weigh in. And they might have answers to your question.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 22, 2015 at 10:22 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

The signs of a housing shortage for existing residents are:

1) Rent and home price increases out of line with other areas and historical norms. Yes, that is true in the region and county

2) One result is an increase in doubling up--young adults moving home or families sharing housing. Data for the county and region show increasing household size when it should be going down as births relative to population are declining and there are more older smaller households.

3) Involuntary displacement of residents, which in addition cause longer commutes

All of these situations would be improved if more housing was built in all affordability ranges and nearer to where the region and county job bases are

Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 22, 2015 at 11:13 am

Building more housing will just increase the inventory for foreign money that's aggressively looking for just that. The result would be that more housing will go to those who least need it and use it to move money out of certain money and to launder dirty money, pushing housing prices even higher, which is exactly what is happening right now.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Dec 22, 2015 at 3:44 pm

This is really depressing news for most locals, given the lack of comprehensive public transpo and the lack of housing. No wonder there are more people living in cars, crowding into housing and the streets are packed with too many cars.

Posted by Mike-Crescent Park, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Dec 22, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Mike-Crescent Park is a registered user.

A vast majority of the jobs here are served by knowledge workers. A lot of the work knowledge workers do can be performed without showing up at an office. And the technology exists (and has for some time) to allow them to get much if not most of there work done from a home office.

So a great deal of the perceived 'need' to build more affordable housing close to work is off the mark. Office space, housing prices and road congestion will all be better if these types of workers are allowed to function, produce and collaborate remotely.

Rebuilding all the towns in the Bay Area to accommodate businesses that want to be physically here does not seem like to smart way to go.

Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 23, 2015 at 8:09 am

Not only can a lot of the work performed by knowledge workers be done at and from home, but the physical location of the knowledge companies, due to the nature of the products they produce and existing technologies is immaterial. They can be located just about anywhere. There is absolutely no reason for new tech companies to move into one of the most expensive, and short of supply real estate markets in the entire world. Some local tech companies have already moved some of their operations elsewhere, which is good thinking.

The development lobby is using the mantra that tech workers need housing as a ploy to get development approved, when the solution is to locate new companies and relocate some existing companies to areas with cheaper and more available housing.

Posted by Thing of the past, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 24, 2015 at 12:33 pm

@Mike-Crescent Park

Most high tech companies have adopted a more recent policy of open office space and everyone show up in the office on a daily basis for increased collaboration. For most high tech workers the luxury of working at home is no longer available which forces more people into their cars and onto the roads. Hence an increased need for more housing here in the Bay Area where the offices are located.

What this area is in desperate need of, is effective public transportation that can efficiently bring people to their jobs, even from areas just beyond the boundaries of the Bay Area. This might reduced the need for more housing here.

Home offices for many companies are a thing of the past. We can thank Yahoos Marissa Meyer for that.

Posted by niswonger, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights,
on Dec 24, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Growth is the sign of a healthy economy and it does have its downsides for quality of life. However the notion that building new housing will only attract more "dirty money" from foreign (read Chinese) investors is simply false and implies a certain prejudice. Let's focus on improving quality of life starting with transportation. One great opportunity is extending BART around the Bay, increasing connectivity with other communities and improving education and access for the elderly are also worthy concepts. Let's not attempt to block progress but manage it so that we can all enjoy

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 25, 2015 at 9:12 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Mauricio and Mike have posted some pretty wild non fact based arguments.

1) knowledge workers working from home

Maybe a few do so but the surging ridership on CalTrain and BART plus the surge in company buses suggests that more not fewer knowledge workers are going to the office.

And there is the fact that companies like Apple and Google and many others are expanding work spaces from Sf to SJ.

Then there is the fact that the vast majority of workers need to be onsite--like teachers and those who work at schools, like police and firefighters and EMTs, like nurses and doctors and those who work at clinics and hospitals, like those who work in stores and restaurants, at airports, in construction and manufacturing and government.

And, wherever people work they still need places to live.

2) Tech is leaving for other places

Yes some companies are establishing locations outside the Bay Area BUT

that overlooks the key fact in the blog--that the Bay Area leads the state in population growth, also in job growth, also in tech job growth.

And the fact that tech companies are expanding here, adding space and employees.

3) Foreign investors will buy all the new housing.

Really doubtful if you think about. Will they scoop up the 9,000 studios and 1 and 2 bdr apartments planned for North Bayshore or the subsidized housing for teachers now supported in some school districts or the Apartments, condos and townhouses in downtown
San Jose, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Sunnyvale.

So the bottom line remains that the region is growing and that there is a housing shortage for existing residents that is pushing up prices and rents, causing more doubling up and more displacement.

That is the reality today. Wishful thinking or telling other people how to live is not usually a successful solution. More housing of the right kind and location is.

Posted by Norman, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Dec 30, 2015 at 10:36 am

Does 'immigration' mean from other parts of the US or is it foreign immigration? If it is foreign, could you please provide the country breakdowns? Also, can you tell us what is the education levels of those coming here and leaving?

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ Norman

Immigration is foreign immigration on a net basis--immigrants minus emigrants.

In the Bay Area most immigrants are Asian--china, India, Phillipines.

compared to other areas our immigrants have more college and advanced degrees.

Throughout California immigration from Mexico (legal and unauthorized) has fallen from previous levels and no longer contributes much to population growth.

In general in California for domestic migration, people leaving have lower average educational levels than people coming here.

Posted by ivg, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Jan 28, 2016 at 8:15 am

Thank you for sharing this report.

"Also the idea that people are leaving the region in large numbers is not supported by this data. Since 2010 more than 10,000 people a year have moved here from the rest of the nation than left."

That's a little misleading. Internal migration for the Bay Area is almost a wash (seems to fluctuate a lot year to year). However, net internal migration for the state is negative. This appears to be due mostly to LA County, which is losing 50,000 people a year this way (0.5% of its total population).

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