Coming, Going, Gone: A Look at California’s Migration Patterns

691,145 people left the state last year. Most of them (86,164) went to Texas, then Arizona (68,516). 55,467 went to Washington, 50,707 to Nevada, and another 43,058 to Oregon.

That’s according to a new analysis of 2018 U.S. Census Bureau migration data by the Orange County Register’s Jonathan Lansner.

“Texas also had the largest ‘net gain’ from California,” Lansner writes. “You know, more ins than outs: 48,354. Next was Arizona (34,846), Nevada (28,274), Oregon (19,008), and Washington (17,460).”

How about the new arrivals?

501,023 people moved to California from another state last year, a five-year low. According to Lansen, Washingtonians made up the largest share of arrivals (38,007), followed by Texans (37,810); New Yorkers (34,848); Arizonans (33,670); and Oregonians (24,050).

Clearly, the four of us like to swap peeps. But the largest net migration into California actually came from the East Coast.

“No. 1 is New York (9,593); then Illinois (5,647), Ohio (5,200), Massachusetts (3,628), and Maryland (3,118),” writes Lansner.

“And if you look at my 'in/out ratio,' you see California does best with West Virginia, losing 42 for every 100 arrivals; then Delaware (48), North Dakota (54), Alabama (58), and Connecticut (60).”

What all these numbers tell us is that California’s population shift is very real — but it’s more a product of small in-migration than large movements outward. Only 1.8% of the state’s population left last year, the third lowest loss nationwide. On the other hand, 1.3% moved to California, making it dead last among all 50 states.


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