U.S. Census Bureau data show Democrat-controlled cities suffered the largest declines in population in the first months of the pandemic. Baltimore and San Francisco both saw 1.39 percent population declines.
Another Bay Area city, San Jose, recorded the third largest drop in population at 1.3 percent.
The declines were recorded between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020, according to Census data.
Rounding out the cities with the largest decrease were New York (1.1 percent), Detroit (0.5 percent), Chicago (0.5 percent), Boston (0.4 percent), Philadelphia (0.3 percent), Milwaukee (0.3 percent), and Los Angeles (0.3 percent).
All of the cities on the list have Democrat mayors (in the same order as the cities): Brandon Scott, London Breed, Sam Liccardo, Bill de Blasio, Mike Duggan, Lori Lightfoot, Kim Janey, James Kenney, Tom Barrett, and Eric Garcetti.
Some Democrat mayors, however, are in cities that saw the most growth over that same time period, according to the data: Seattle, 2.2 percent, Democrat Mayor Jenny Durkan; Fort Worth, 2.1 percent, Republican Mayor Mattie Parker; Mesa, Arizona, 1.9 percent, Republican Mayor John Giles; Austin, Texas, 1.7 percent, Democrat Mayor Steve Adler; Phoenix, Arizona, 1.5 percent, Democrat Mayor Kate Gallego; Charlotte, 1.4 percent, Democrat Mayor Vy Lyles; Denver, 1.4 percent, Democrat Michael Hancock; Las Vegas, 1.3 percent, Democrat Mayor Carolyn Goodman; San Antonio, 1.3 percent, Independent Mayor Ron Nirenberg; and Oklahoma City, 1.1 percent, Republican Mayor David Holt.
The San Francisco Chronicle added a positive spin to the news, reporting that most who fled California’s cities stayed in the state and some might be ready to move back:
So where were people leaving the Bay Area’s big cities going? Postal service data shows that they mostly moved to other parts of the Bay Area or California. A Chronicle analysis in March found 72 percent of address changes filed with the United States Postal Service resulted in moves to other Bay Area counties, and about a fifth went elsewhere in California.
Also contributing to the decline in San Francisco and San Jose is that California had a decrease of new people moving into the state, leaving fewer people to replace those who left according to a March study by the California Policy Lab, an initiative from UCLA and UC Berkeley that uses data to address policy questions.
There’s reason to believe San Francisco is already making a comeback. San Francisco’s rent prices are making a strong recovery after dropping during the pandemic, a report by Apartment List found, indicating that people may be ready to move back to the city. The Apartment List analysis uses property data on its website and statistics from the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development and includes rents for older units and those in lower-income neighborhoods.
The Chronicle also pointed out that the data doesn’t include the “natural” factors of population growth and decline — deaths and births.
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