Having really slowed its roll last year, the estimated population of San Francisco proper continued to grow at an annual rate of 0.3 percent in the first half of 2019 and hit a record high of 889,360 as of July 1.

That being said, for the first time in a decade, the net migration into the city was actually negative, with outmigration having hit a decade high of 5,288 while immigration dropped to 5,200, for a net exodus of 88 people, according to the latest data from California’s Department of Finance.

In fact, had it not been for more babies having been born in the city (8,669) than the number of residents that died (5,839), the population of San Francisco would have actually declined over the past year.  And with respect to the adult population, it did (decline).

Across the greater Bay Area, while the total population ticked up to a record high of 7,796,235, the growth rate dropped to a decade-low of 0.3 percent and net migration tuned negative for the first time in a decade as well, with Alameda County continuing to leading the way in terms of growth (up 11,385 to 1,674,115) followed by Contra Costa County (up 5,750 to 1,153,077), with the populations in Sonoma, Napa and Marin having slipped by an average of 0.3 percent and a below-average growth rate of 0.2 percent down in The Valley.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by jenofla

    For everyone who loves where they live just the way it is, having growth OR loss can change what one loves about a place. I still don’t understand how an economy whose health is based on constantly increasing population is in any way sustainable. Yes, great for real estate investors, and I acknowledge that’s what this site is all about, but in the bigger picture, the numbers here are just that, numbers, and depending on your interpretation, good or bad or neutral.

    • Posted by Jake T

      Unless you’re commenting specifically about the babies, these are not people who stop existing if they do not live in San Francisco. If you’re speaking about macroeconomics: it does not depend on a constantly increasing population.

      • Posted by mvp

        “If you’re speaking about macroeconomics: it does not depend on a constantly increasing population”

        With all due respect, it most certainly does. Govt entities do borrow money today to pay back tomorrow for “investment”. The infrastructure said “investment” (minus the usual graft) paid for must be maintained and eventually replaced. That alone requires a population increase. Never mind the other obligations such as pensions/ssa/etc.

        Most cities and towns in North America are functionally insolvent

        • Posted by BTinSF

          Why does it require a population increase. The population in San Francisco was pretty stable or perhaps even falling slightly when I first moved here and for some time after, and the city was doing fine economically. I don’t see why you think more people will be required in future to replace infrastructure paid for by a given number today. It will likely cost more, sure, but all prices and wages will likely be higher and so, therefore, will city revenue even without a population increase.

  2. Posted by beforewarned

    The US population is set to grow from 300 million in 2010 to 450 million in 2050, a fact determined by the US Census. These are future Americans that will also need homes, and they will be restricted from moving to the best Bay Area cities due to old people from the mid 20th century holding all of the property.

    Increasing population inside of cities is actually the ONLY sustainable, eco-friendly method of handling this population growth. There are not enough hamlets in California to hold these people, and the outer reaches of human expansion already carries fire risks across the state.

    San Francisco’s citizens and government must take the responsibility of building homes for a total of 1.2 million people, in order to accommodate for the next 30 years of growth. That is 300k more people, or about 140-150,000 new homes. There are plans for well over 50,000 new homes, the city just has to keep things moving through the pipeline.

    • Posted by alison

      “These are future Americans that will also need homes, and they will be restricted from moving to the best Bay Area cities due to old people from the mid 20th century holding all of the property.” Blame it on the boomers who ruined everything for you. Every one of them. Yawn.

    • Posted by heynonnynonny

      If your complaint is old people holding all the property, you should work to repeal Proposition 13.
      Supply across the state would increase faster than you could possibly build. All it would take is one statewide ballot proposition.

      • Posted by alison

        And the “olds” on fixed incomes who made SF cool before you were born could live on the streets.

        • Posted by heynonnynonny

          Prop 13 hasn’t been set up to benefit owner-occupiers for years. It’s a handout to landlords at this point.

          • Posted by Jeffrey W. Baker

            “At this point”? Prop 13 was written by the Los Angeles Apartment Owners Association. It is by and for landlords and marketed to dupes, who turn out to be numerous.

          • Posted by Dandywhatsoever

            It was created and pushed by mainly commercial property owners, residential was incidental – but needed to pass it.

        • Posted by Jake T

          The street grid made SF cool, and the olds who’d lose primary residence with a market rate property taxes would, in the process, be realizing huge capital gains. Not sure how you conclude they’d be on the streets.

        • Posted by jennyfromtheblock

          Or just get a reverse mortgage…

      • Posted by Notcom

        Why not just adopt the MO of Mssrs Kalb, Kaplan and other enlightened members of the Oakland City Council: Oakland official threatens to seize ‘Moms 4 Housing’ home. True, most of these geezers probably still live in their homes – kinda what makes the “their” in the phrase – but that shouldn’t be an obstacle…we can always lock the doors when they go out for a medical appointment.

        • Posted by BTinSF

          The first Millennial through my door to take my property is going to be awfully sorry he/she crossed my threshold without permission.

      • Posted by Truth

        Absolutely not. You still have local land use policies, zoning, and NIMBYs to ensure that supply will never meet demand. Place the blame where it belongs – politicians and their voters in SF who want the city forever in amber and did everything they could to discourage growth. Prop 13 is easily singled out by the ignorant, the jealous (why should I pay more property tax for the house I just bought than my neighbor who has lived there for 30 years?), and the state and city governments who salivate at a new revenue source they can squander on pensions and overpaid political appointees…

    • Posted by Patrick

      So why can’t all these new people live in Kansas City, Denver, Omaha, Little Rock, Memphis or Atlanta where land costs are less expensive? Why do they all have to crowd onto the tip of a tiny peninsula?

      • Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

        In all probability San Francisco is at its population peak – give or take. And there could be a significant decrease in population over the coming decade. That due to a number of factors often discussed at SS, The poster who projected 1.2 million people in SF at a future point, based on national population growth, is incorrect. California and the Bay Area in particular are growing slower than the national average and much slower than metros like Seattle, Phoenix and more. Phoenix is growing 10 times faster than SF and Seattle 6 or 7 times faster. So, fear not, people are settling into other metro areas rather than the Bay Area. The Bay Area as a population and jobs center will decline going forward vis a vis other metros.

        • Posted by Notcom

          Well of course Phoenix is growing rapidly: everyone knows heat makes things expand !! 🙂
          Your figures for SEA vs. the Bay Area – or even Phoenix vs. , for that matter – are in the right direction, but several orders of magnitude off but then, heck, even the Eastbay – a region that includes the City Of Oakland – is growing faster than SF.

        • Posted by Orlando

          You say the same thing all the time always negative about San Francisco. You are such a hater. San Francisco is building 40,000 homes over the years. It will most definitely hit 1 million residents within the next decade or so. San Francisco grew faster than anywhere else in the beginning of this past decade. Seattle still isn’t close to the population of SF, and Phoenix is the 5th biggest city in the U.S. there’s no comparison. San Francisco population will continue to grow, especially with new developments across the city going up.

        • Posted by Brian M

          Talk about unsustainable. (Phoenix) When the water is tapped out and the average summer day is 120, how smart will investors look then?

          Or, for that matter, when the Cascadian Subduction Zone finally goes again. Will we be seeing posts from Dave (underwater Seattle dude)?

      • Posted by Jake T

        People who ask questions like this should move to Kansas City, Denver, Omaha, Little Rock, Memphis or Atlanta because they clearly do not understand the benefits of living in a dense place and would rather enjoy the benefits of lots of cheap land and no neighbors.

        • Posted by Patrick

          The point is, it would be less expensive to densify places where the cost of land and building is lower than in a metropolitan area that is already dense where costs are high.

      • Posted by jennyfromtheblock

        I’d ask the same question to you

  3. Posted by mary_jane_jacobs

    Babies everywhere keep our global population from declining.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      That’s true. But said growth hasn’t been evenly distributed. The birth rate in San Francisco has actually been on the decline. And once again, for the first time in a decade, the net migration into the city was negative and the adult, home-buying/renting population declined.

  4. Posted by anon

    Besides the obvious things about income disparity/tech jobs, etc, it seems like another difference between the have’s and have-not’s is age. Between rent control and prop 13, older people are paying less than younger people for the same housing and thus a large amt of SF housing stock gets locked in. With rent control this is pretty obvious in large buildings with the disparity in rents for similar units. I have not looked at this but would expect that the mean/median age in SF to increase over time. Obviously many other factors and confounding variables could affect mean/median age. And you’d have to normalize for the aging population in the US in general.

    • Posted by Jeffrey W. Baker

      You’re right that median age is rapidly increasing. It crossed 38 years old in the 2010 Census, who knows what it will be in the 2020 data. But it was nearly this high in the 1960s when the city was shrinking.

  5. Posted by hundo_p

    The cost of raising children in San Francisco is completely insane. For those who bemoan real estate prices, look at private school tuition (or the dearth of good public school options), childcare, healthcare, transportation (no, you cannot bike or bus around town with your young children in tow), “extras” like music or swimming lessons, etc. It’s virtually guaranteed the vast majority of these families with babies will leave SF in the next 3-5 years.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      It’s not so bad if, like an awful lot of the people raising children in SF, you live cheaply in public housing, get subsidized meals for them at free public schools and discounted transit fares. The middle class having children in the city are all leaving soon after.

      • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

        If you’re going to have, for whatever reason, a sanctuary city that allows anyone who shows up to work in it regardless of whether they arrived legally, it’s just not uncommon to find that “an awful lot of” those workers will wind up in jobs that don’t provide an income high enough to support raising children without subsidization from the public. Then the public has to provide public housing to those workers, give their children subsidized meals at freely-provided public schools and discounted transit fares if and when those workers who can’t afford to pay for them out of their earnings have children.

        And you certainly cannot complain when “an awful lot of” citizens take advantage of those same benefits when they see people who recently arrived here availing themselves of them.

        • Posted by SFRealist

          So our sanctuary city policy is to blame for, what, discounted transit fares? How does that follow again?

      • Posted by Floyd Sanders

        “An awful lot…” wow. That makes for a rigorous premise. B/c there’s so much public housing here.

    • Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

      So true. A good number move out within several years of having a first child. If it’s a second child that only increases the odds the family moves. For all the reasons you say. The population “baby blip” is transitory and a good chunk of that 8669 will be gone from the city sooner rather than later.

      • Posted by sparky-b

        What blip? baby blip like this was a one off year of lots of kids. The age of school age kids in the city is going up across most age groups and has been on a very slight incline for a decade.

        The whole insertion of, ‘the birth of babies is the only reason the population went up’ seems forced. The baby population was expected as is some out migrations. If you are getting into the deep dive should we be looking into how many school kids turned 18 and aren’t children in SF anymore. And for out migration of 88, What about going away to college? Thousands of young adults did that this fall how is that counted?

        • Posted by Ohlone Californio

          An out migration of 88 is definitely within the gen Z college migration pattern IMO. The city remains at an all time high population count, and folks are coming up with all sorts of wild, wild stuff on here. And the editor doesn’t talk to them, rather, talks to me about huge datasets versus hand picked apples. Comedy.

    • Posted by Miraloma Man

      Raising a kid in San Francisco with an upper-middle-class income is actually possible. And, no, they don’t need to driven everywhere. I know, because I am doing it. It’s not easy or inexpensive, but the benefits outweigh the negatives. But only one child. And public school.

      • Posted by hundo_p

        It’d be fascinating to see your daily schedule and budget. It’d be a great blue-print for the rest of us to follow.

        [Hmm: did you make the money yourself, receive help from grandparents, or a trust fund?. Tell us how you managed to get your kid into a great local school. Please explain how you get your kid (on “transit”) from school, to Mission Bay (UCSF), to soccer practice, and then the friend’s sleepover.

        • Posted by Brisket

          Like Miraloma Man I have one child in public school. It has been tough but I agree the benefits of city living are worth it. She started middle school this year and can take the bus home by herself/with friends so this year things got a lot easier and cheaper because I don’t have to pay for aftercare because 11 years olds are quite independent.

          The first ten years would have been impossible for me without a car and I live/work in the city. I got lucky that there was a good public elementary school near my house. She is now in a good public middle school (charter school) but did not get in until 5 weeks after the school year had started. Despite the rough transition she is now happy there and it was worth it because she is guaranteed to get into the same public charter high school which is also good. But yeah, $2k a year to play soccer, art classes, etc., city living isn’t cheap or easy.

          • Posted by Miraloma Man

            No trust fund (I wish there was), but we keep our expenses down by not taking very many expensive vacations, not signing our son up for a bunch of “activities” that he doesn’t even want to do anyway (except for the mandatory ethnic ones), and doing as much of the work to fix up and maintain our house as we can. We are also lucky to live next to a very good public school. But we really try to avoid the whole yuppie keeping up with the Jones’s thing.

            I don’t care if my neighbor is unimpressed that our year’s vacation was to Portland and not Tahiti or that we don’t have a Tesla. It’s so weird how people around here are so anxious to impress people they don’t even know or care about.

        • Posted by VietMomma

          We are raising two kids in the very good public schools. One is in Sloat and the other Aptos. They are 10 and 13 and take the bus themselves. When they were younger, we transported them by walking to daycare, then on a cargo bike to elementary school. We have a 10 year old Honda we use occasionally.

          Our children have learned that they won’t be chauffeured around town, so they tend to do things in the neighborhood and sleepovers are with friends nearby. I live in Bernal Heights and there are lots of school aged children here.

          Since you asked, we made our money ourselves. I am an immigrant and my husband’s father was a truck driver. We met at UC Berkeley and my husband got into tech early. That definitely helped but we are both pretty frugal. No Audi station wagon or live in nanny (or private school) for us. We prefer to save more.

  6. Posted by jimbo

    glad to see an increase in babies. now, if the city would just try and do something to keep families as so many move out before school age.

  7. Posted by Carlson

    Can we start with this — “The US population is set to grow from 300 million in 2010 to 450 million in 2050, a fact determined by the US Census.” A fact? Determined by the census? Could we have a citation, please, because it reads as utter nonsense.

    • Posted by Notcom

      That was within the range of estimates done about a decade ago, but is no longer the case, guess we’re no longer able to attract people from Norway. But yes, you’re right: regardless of whether/not it was once an estimate, that’s all it ever was, not a “fact”.

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