New census data shows millennial migration from San Francisco
With rising rent prices, the high cost of living and the flexibility of remote working, all signs seem to point to a recent exodus of young people from San Francisco. But the new census data offers heartening news: The majority of San Franciscan millennials chose to live in the area where they grew up — at least before the pandemic.
Today, the Census Bureau and a Harvard research team released a data tool that tracks the movement of young people from where they lived at age 16 to where they landed at age 26. By bringing together census, survey and tax data for people born between 1984 and 1992, researchers have found compelling links between young adult migration patterns and employment opportunities in different “commuting zones”. or county economic groups.
The biggest find? Most millennials haven’t strayed far from their childhood home — and San Francisco is no exception.
Home is where the heart is
There is no doubt that SF has lost population during the pandemic. A total of 58,764 residents moved between April 2020 and July 2021, and recent analyzes show that many of these people were young adults.
But before the pandemic, if you pulled one of San Francisco‘s millennials off the streets, chances are they grew up in the city.
A total of 72% of millennials who grew up in San Francisco stayed in the city as young adults, while another 15% moved to nearby parts of the Greater Bay Area. The numbers rank San Francisco among other major cities, but still above the national average: Nearly 60% of American millennials lived within 10 miles of their hometown, and 8 in 10 lived within 160 km from where they grew up.
But for young San Franciscans eager to leave the city and state, they tended to disperse to populated coastal cities like New York or Seattle. These millennials moved an average of 239 miles, a number just slightly higher than the national migration average of 181 miles.
What this suggests is that San Francisco millennials, if they do relocate, are more willing to move to an entirely new state or coast than, say, a 30-something who grew up in Indianapolis.
The Great Millennial Migration to San Francisco
But who flow the city’s population growth? The census report shows that other Californians tend to flock to San Francisco, with the most common migrant millennials coming from nearby cities like San Jose or Sacramento.
Even then, the Golden Gate seems to attract young people from afar. The average young adult who came to San Francisco from another area moved from somewhere over 400 miles away — like Seattle or Chicago — most likely for a job. Judging by this age group, it’s proof that the tech boom has really lured in young professionals with the promise of startup loot and big tech bonuses.
Migration patterns affected by race/ethnicity, parental income
These numbers begin to change when we look at race and ethnicity, as well as parental income. Not surprisingly, the demographic group with the highest mobility rates are white people whose parents are in the top 20% of the income bracket and who have the means to migrate and move away.
Black, Asian and Hispanic millennials are more likely to stay in or near their childhood areas. The census report reveals that young black adults, for example, walked an average of 60 miles less than young white adults.
This is especially true for young Asian and Hispanic adults in San Francisco. On average, 82% of Asians who grew up in San Francisco remained in the city as young adults, while Hispanic young adults remained in the Bay Area at a rate of 79%, both compared to a citywide average of 72%. And when Asian and Hispanic young adults left the city, they tended to move to nearby areas, 80 to 90 miles closer than the average for all young adults growing up in San Francisco.
On the other hand, San Francisco was a consistently popular destination for young adults of most racial and ethnic groups. It was the eighth most popular destination nationally and the third most popular destination for Asian young adults, with nearly eight percent of Asian movers choosing the city over other popular metropolises like Chicago or Boston.
What about COVID?
Census Bureau data implies that young people, on the whole, tend to stay in the places they grew up, connecting a millennial’s childhood home to the labor markets they are exposed to as adults. . For San Francisco, its business and cultural offerings seem to appeal to young adults of all demographics and from across the country.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly altered these results, as this study did not include 2020 census data, nor did it take into account COVID-related effects on labor market activity or youth migration. adults.
And while local businesses are certainly going through tough times with a drop in venture capital investment and an increase in layoffs, San Francisco remains one of the most popular neighborhoods for the innovation economy, which will continue to grow. attract millennials near and far, Gen Z and other young professionals. in search of the next gold rush in California.
Liz Lindqwister can be contacted at [email protected].
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