The City of San Francisco Has One of the Fastest Rates of Population Growth in the State
San Francisco, once a symbol of the pandemic-era population decline affecting urban centers, is witnessing a reversal in this trend. According to the California Department of Finance, San Francisco experienced the highest population growth due to net migration among California’s 58 counties in the past year. This resurgence is notable in the broader context of California’s population dynamics.
California’s population has been on a downward trend since 2020, breaking a growth streak that lasted from 1959 to 2020. This decline was particularly sharp at the start of the pandemic, with the state losing around 295,000 people between 2020 and 2021 due to increased deaths and reduced federal legal immigration.
However, the rate of population decrease is now slowing, as the impacts of the pandemic lessen and foreign immigration returns to pre-pandemic levels. In the last year, California lost approximately 37,200 people.
San Francisco itself saw an increase of 4,682 net new migrants between July 2022 and July 2023, a mix of domestic and international migration. With births included, the city’s population grew by 4,925, reaching a total of 848,019.
This 0.58% growth rate is among the highest in a state largely experiencing population declines. In absolute numbers, San Francisco ranked third in new residents, behind Alameda and Santa Clara counties, which have larger populations and more births.
Despite these gains, San Francisco’s population is still not at its pre-pandemic level, having lost 29,013 people between 2020 and 2023. The city’s recovery illustrates a broader pattern of resurgence in the Bay Area, which overall has started to grow again after the pandemic-induced decline.
The state’s population estimates are derived from various data sources, including birth and death counts, address change data, and school enrollment figures. This comprehensive approach ensures an accurate understanding of demographic changes in regions like San Francisco.