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    817,669 Californians left in 2022. Which state did they move to?
    • November 11, 2023

    California lost 817,669 residents to other states in 2022.

    No state had a larger outflow of its population to other parts of the nation, according to Census Bureau data. New York was No. 2 with 545,598 exits, followed by Texas (494,077), Florida (489,905) and Illinois (344,027).

    So where did ex-Californians move to in 2022? And how did that flow change over the year?

    Location. Location. Location.

    Texas was the No. 1 spot for ex-Californians with 102,442 relocations. Then came Arizona (74,157), Florida (50,701), Washington (49,968) and Nevada (48,836).

    The least popular states included Delaware, which snared only 660 Californians, followed by Vermont (855), West Virginia (879), Rhode Island (919) and South Dakota (957).

    Consider these moves as a share of a state’s population. Or, thinking about the flow another way: What are the odds someone would meet a new California transplant in another state?

    Nevada has the highest concentration of former Californians in the Exiting Class of 2022, at 155 per 10,000 residents. Then comes Idaho (140), Arizona (102), Oregon (87) and Hawaii (74).

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    Conversely, where is it hard to find a newly minted ex-Californian? West Virginia was tops at 5 per 10,000, then Mississippi at 6, and Delaware, New Jersey and Iowa at 7.

    By the way, how common are new ex-Californians in the state’s big rivals? Texas was No. 14 at 35 per 10,000 and Florida was No. 23 at 23.

    The swings

    The population flow out of California is by no means static. Last year, 23,396 fewer Golden Staters left than the year before – a 3% drop from 2021.

    And destinations changed, too. Florida had 2022’s biggest increase in gaining former Golden Staters at 13,237. Then came Arizona (4,725), Alabama (4,643), Massachusetts (3,503) and Kentucky (3,386).

    At the other end of the spectrum, Oregon’s inflow shrank by 15,194 – the No. 1 drop among the states. Then came Nevada (off 13,601), Washington (off 7,608), Hawaii (off 5,554) and Texas (off 5,104).

    Or you can look at the one-year change in migration in percentage-point terms.

    Delaware’s flow of inbound Californians grew by 469%, followed by West Virginia (139%), Alabama (138%), Kentucky (130%) and Louisiana (41%).

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    The largest shrinkage was Nebraska’s 68% loss, then came Rhode Island (off 68%), Iowa (off 58%), South Dakota (off 43%) and Wyoming (off 40%).

    Rival Texas ranked No. 30 with a 5% dip. Florida was No. 8 with its 35% jump.

    Bottom line

    Among the smaller number of Californians moving out, there seems to be a simmering desire for life east of the Mississippi River.

    Yes, Western states are still the top destination, taking in 474,235 from California last year vs. the East’s 343,434.

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    But the West’s Golden State intake was down 54,287 from 2021 compared with the East’s 30,891 increase.

    So, the East grew its share of the California outflow – grabbing 42% of former Golden Staters last year vs. 37% in 2021.


    As I often point out, California is better than you think at retaining its residents.

    Consider the outflow as a share of the state’s population.

    In 2022, 2.1% of Californians left for elsewhere in the US, but 2.5% of all Americans switched states.

    Only eight states had a smaller share of its residents leave in 2022 topped by Texas, Michigan and Ohio at 1.7%. And Florida had a 2.3% exit rate.

    Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]

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