Many wanted to call SF home amid Great Recession, survey shows 

click to enlarge San Francisco
  • Cindy Chew/2006 S.f. Examiner file photo
  • The City added more than 15,000 people between 2007 and 2011, according to new census data. From 2010 to 2012, San Francisco grew by another 20,000.
Amid the Great Recession, long before Google bus blockades and the housing crisis, precursors of today’s big population shifts were afoot in San Francisco — and in some predictable and some surprising directions.

From 2007 to 2011, nearly 10,000 people moved to San Francisco from the Peninsula and the South Bay. At the same time, more than 8,000 crossed the Bay Bridge to Alameda County, while more than 11,000 moved south to San Mateo County and some 2,819 people headed for Santa Clara County.

The new numbers come from the American Community Survey, which was released late Wednesday. The annual U.S. Census Bureau survey asks people across the nation over a five-year period about where they had lived in the previous year.

Population growth and demographic shifts in San Francisco are not surprising, especially in the past couple of years. The vigorously growing tech-led economy has driven not only economic recovery here, but also a rapidly shifting and increasing population.

From 2010 to 2012, San Francisco’s population grew by about 20,000 people, according to estimates from the Census Bureau.

The Bay Area had the fastest-growing population in the state in 2012. In that year alone, San Francisco’s population, the third-fastest-growing county in the state, grew by 1.1 percent to 825,111, according to the California Department of Finance.

What previous state and federal data did not say, and what the new census data only allude to, is where people were moving to and from.

The new data — an estimate and subject to change with additional data — now at least point to where population changes in 2012 and 2013 were heading, and may counter some assumptions about where people are and are not moving.

From 2007 to 2011, the Census Bureau surveyed 59,018 people living in San Francisco who said they moved to The City from another county in the state within the year.

Nearly 5,000 of them said they came to San Francisco from Alameda County. And the Southern California counties of Los Angeles and San Diego contributed more than 5,000 new souls to The City.

But 43,864 people surveyed over that period said they had left San Francisco for another location in the state within the year.

While more left for San Mateo County than any other place in California — 11,129 — more than 4,000 of those surveyed headed to Contra Costa County and another 3,480 left for Marin County. Los Angeles County received 2,867 and Santa Clara County saw 2,819 new inhabitants from San Francisco.


The numbers below show some of the migration patterns within the state from 2007 to 2011:

Inflow total within the state: 59,018

5,689: San Mateo County to S.F.

4,957: Alameda County to S.F.

3,672: Santa Clara County to S.F.

3,549: L.A. County to S.F.

2,075: San Diego County to S.F.

Outflow total within the state: 43,864

11,129: S.F. to San Mateo County

8,113: S.F. to Alameda County

4,209: S.F. to Contra Costa County

3,480: S.F. to Marin County

2,867: S.F. to L.A. County

2,819: S.F. to Santa Clara County

1,326: S.F. to Sacramento County

Source: American Community Survey, 2007-11

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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