Were it not for the clueless arrogance, the attempts by California pundits and politicians to find solace in a new report about the state’s middle-class exodus would be funny.
Those California-enamored souls have been fawning over a University of California survey released in July claiming that the much discussed abandonment of the Golden State is an overblown myth. Their proof: Only (emphasis mine) 23% of voters there say they are seriously considering dumping California. And that’s 1% less than the last time they were asked back in 2019 (a statistically insignificant difference that falls within normal polling error).
Other positives that supposedly debunk the exodus include:
- The majority of Californians still believe in the “California Dream.”
- While people are leaving, it’s not an unusual rate.
- Millionaires are not fleeing.
- The state continues to attract significant venture capital investments.
“The empirical data will be, at once, disappointing to those who want to write California’s obituary, as well as a call to action for policymakers to address the challenges that have caused some to lose faith in the California Dream,” University of California Regent John A. Pérez said in a press release about the survey.
In other words, don’t worry about the exodus. Nothing to change. Move along. Move along.
Start with the oft-cited is UC San Diego survey that found Californians, by a 2-1 margin, still think it’s a great place to live.
Allow me to concede some of the fabulous features about California: the beaches, coastal weather, wine country, Yosemite and other icons of the outdoors, the variety of life from San Francisco to LA, the laid-back lifestyle of San Diego, and the scenic vistas of Highway 1. Despite its problems, there is a lot to love about California. (I say that as someone who lived there four times in my life.)
Nonetheless, the survey cheerleaders are cherry-picking sentiments and ignoring facts. That 2-1 margin, for example, also means that a third of the respondents do not believe it’s still a great place to live. It takes a stretch of optimism to believe that it’s good news when nearly a quarter of the people living there are considering leaving (including 40% of San Franciscans.)
As for the “normal” out-migration, that ignores that, for the first time in history, California is losing a congressional seat. It would be losing more were it not for international immigration.
Booster claim that millionaires are not leaving and venture capital investments remain strong. An analysis reported in the UC studies says that – despite the highest income tax rates in the nation – millionaires are not fleeing. (Some high profile ones have left with their companies or are in the exit lane though, including Tesla and Elon Musk, Charles Schwab, Larry Ellison and Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, and Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale.)
So the millionaires are doing just fine there. Others are not. As a Public Policy Institute of California found that income inequality in the state tops all but five other states. So the millionaires are doing just fine there. It’s the middle class and poor folk who are looking for more opportunities or less costs.
And despite the state’s stated concern for minorities, Hispanic and African-American families are greatly over-represented among the poor. (Whites and Asians are over-represented among the wealthy.) That’s not the face California presents to the world.
So, while California may not be experiencing something like a Depression-era Dust Bowl exodus to places like Texas, Nevada, and Las Vegas, it’s losing native population, witnessing growing income inequality, and has destroyed its “land of opportunity” luster for much of its middle and poorer classes.
That’s not exactly billboard material, regardless of what the academic and political beneficiaries of the state’s policies and problems would have us believe.
Here’s how it’s presented:
The much-discussed ‘California exodus’ isn’t real, study finds – Claims that fed-up residents are leaving en masse have been widespread – but they’re a myth, researchers say
But also see:
THE CALIFORNIA DREAM IS DYING – The once-dynamic state is closing the door on economic opportunity
The High Cost of California – UCLA economist Lee Ohanian discusses shift in California’s governance that led to high cost of living and doing business in the state
Get the free book:
Go to www.DumpCal for a free book on why people are leaving California.