Exodus: Problems with Viral CalExodus Study and Big Opportunities in the Grand Canyon State

Brandon Ristoff

Policy Analyst

Brandon Ristoff
March 9, 2021

Exodus: Problems with Viral CalExodus Study and Big Opportunities in the Grand Canyon State

To access The California Book of Exoduses: CLICK HERE

Sorry California Data Lab- #TheCalExodusIsHappening

Recently, there was a well-publicized report by the California Data Lab suggesting the “CalExodus” that has been a major news headline over the last year, was not actually happening. While a longer critique of the article is needed (which I hope to post very soon), here are some immediate thoughts on the subject.

First, their report used five years of data and focused on the 2020 pandemic year. In addition to increasing cultural and ideological rifts in the state, excessive taxes and high cost-of-living are pushing most Californians — people and companies — to leave this state, and it has been going on for decades. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made us more aware of the exodus happening, this does not mean it has only happened in the last year.

Second, we have had consistent net domestic out-migration for decades. As referenced in my previous article talking about the Dee Dee Myers interview with CalMatters, data has shown substantial net domestic out-migration as early as 1990.

Finally, there has been a substantial decrease in population growth in such a short amount of time. The California population growth rate, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual estimates, increased from 2014 to 2015 by 0.82%, but between 2019 to 2020 the population growth rate was -0.18%. To put this into perspective, the entire United States had a population growth rate from 2014 to 2015 of 0.74%, and a growth rate of 0.35% between 2019 and 2020. This is a two and a half time decrease in the California annual growth rate compared to the national rate. 

Grand Opportunities in the Grand Canyon State

On February 11, Viavi Solutions, a Bay Area company worth $3.5 billion, announced they were moving their headquarters from Milpitas, California to the greater Phoenix area. Viavi Solutions, according to U.S. News, “designs and manufactures products for optical communications networks.” The company is known for making the sensors for the Microsoft Kinect system, says the Phoenix Business Journal’s Andy Blye.  Align Technology, the creators of the Invisalign system, also announced recently they were moving from San Jose to Tempe, Arizona.

In a study by CBRE, from 2006 to 2018, 23% of all inbound residents into Arizona came from California. Also, according to Joseph Vranich as told to the Phoenix Business Journal, Arizona had the third most company relocations from California from 2008 to 2016, and has a friendly tax and regulatory environment for businesses compared to California. 

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Brandon Ristoff is a policy analyst for the California Policy Center.

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