April 15, 2005


People leaving county in droves (Beth Barrett, 4/15/05, LA Daily News)

The exodus of Los Angeles County residents to surrounding counties and nearby states accelerated significantly during the past year, driving the largest population shift in the nation, according to new U.S. Census Bureau figures released Thursday.

Fueled by soaring housing prices, traffic congestion, and new jobs in outlying areas, residents left L.A. at an average net rate of 9,621 per month between July 1, 2003, and last July 1, compared with an average net of 7,373 per month over the three previous years -- a 30 percent increase on average.

The figures show 115,434 more residents left the county last year than newcomers arrived. But the overall population still increased with 98,184 new immigrants arriving from foreign countries and 94,675 more births than deaths.

Experts said the trend is a continuing shrinking of the middle class in Los Angeles and a worsening of the disparity in income between new arrivals and the wealthier, long-term residents whose incomes likely will grow.

William H. Frey, a demographer and visiting fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said the decades-long shift of populations to the suburbs has accelerated and expanded throughout the nation, with more families moving farther away into what's been dubbed the exurbs.

"What's happened in Southern California is a mega-trend of what's happening elsewhere, with people moving farther and farther from the central urban area. In California, it's even beyond state lines."

Frey said studies show that no longer is the migration a "white flight" phenomena, but that Hispanics, in particular, and other ethnic groups are joining in increasing numbers.

Cities and Europe--experiments that failed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2005 6:33 AM

something doesn't add up here; how do you get falling population with rising home prices ? you don't. i don't doubt that people are leaving, but more are arriving, too. l.a. is a hell hole but a lot of people don't seem to care.

Posted by: cjm at April 15, 2005 7:58 PM

New York, with its even more ridiculous housing prices, broke even in the latest census population numbers, probably because the high prices are partially offset by the ability to get around without a car (also L.A. used to have a big tax advantage on New York, but thanks to the dilligent efforts of Gray Davis and the California Legislature, that's not the case anymore).

Posted by: John at April 15, 2005 9:10 PM

Housing prices increase because interest rates decreased. In a 10% interest rate environment, a monthly payment of $1000 allows you to borrow about $114000. In a 7% interest rate environment, you can borrow $154000. People decide how much to spend on a house based on how large a mortgage they can carry.

Posted by: bart at April 16, 2005 9:23 AM