Latinos comprise the largest ethnic group in the largest state of the union. Today, nearly 40 percent of all California residents are of Latino origin – a number that will only grow over the coming decades. The future of California and the future of its Latino population are one in the same. But when we look at some of the economic and political trends among California’s 14 million Latino residents, there are troubling signs for our community, and for our state’s future.
On March 5, the Sacramento Bee published a story an article that delves into the migration out of California over the last 15 years. “Every year,” the article found, “more people left California than moved in from other states.”
Overall, the analysis found that those who tended to leave the state were “relatively poor,” and lacked degrees from a higher education institute. For comparison sake, the state experienced a net loss of 800,000 people living in near official poverty line, but a net gain of 20,000 residents “earning at least five times the poverty rate...”
This mass migration is largely attributed to factors driving up California’s cost of living, particularly, rising housing and energy costs and a diminishing availability of upwardly mobile or sustainable wage jobs within the state.
However, internal CLEI analysis found the article’s position to be somewhat misleading. Specifically, the analysis fails to include the net migration of middle income residents – and Latino middle income residents, in particular – out of California.
Using the original Bee data from the charts above:
Lower Income (1-99% and 100-199% of federal poverty income) net migration saw 795,605 more people leave the state than move in during these 11 years.
Middle Income (200-299%, 200-399%, and 400-499%) net migration saw 461,004 more people leave than move in.
Higher Income (500% +) saw the only positive net migration, but accounted for only 17,226, or about 1,600 people a year.
Our analysis of this data shows that Latinos made up just over half of the net out-migration:
Of the net migration of 1.2 million people moving out of the state from 2005-2015, 53% (650,000) were Latino.
A slightly higher share of the middle income net migration group (54%) than the lower income group (49%) was Latino.
All Latino income groups saw a net outflow, including higher income Latinos at 7,700.
Top destinations for all Latinos moving out of the state were: Texas (16%), Arizona (13%), Nevada (10%), Wyoming (8%), and Washington (6%).
Top source for all Latinos moving from another state into California were similar: Texas (13%), Nevada (11%), Arizona (11%), Washington (7%), and Florida (6%).
More Latinos migrating from other countries now choose to go to Texas or Florida rather than California. California has dropped as the top choice of Latinos migrating from other countries, going from 23% of the total in 2005 to 16% in 2015. Texas has remained essentially constant at an average of 18%. Florida has doubled its share, going from 9% in 2005 to 18% in 2015.
*Supplemental analysis conducted using the UC Berkeley analytical tool available on the University of Minnesota website. Some variations may occur, but differences are generally below 1%.