Who's leaving California?

Most striking, California is now losing higher-income households as well as middle-and-lower-income households…the state is no longer a significant draw for people from other states of any age, education or income…

There are a lot of positives here, but a shrinking population is a sign that something’s not working for people.



The public is concerned with several things. One of them is the environmental impact people have on southern California up into the Central Valley.

The mood nationally is beginning to turn from going to the Southwest to party in the dessert.

I am wondering when people give up on Florida.

We love visiting Cape Cod but wont buy homes there.

Now we may be giving up on homes in the future in Dublin, Ireland.

When I was in Silicon Valley I met a fellow who had a Mac software package marketed by Microsoft. He was doing extremely well. He built a gorgeous house in one of the poshest towns near San Francisco. When Microsoft cancelled the contract he sold the house, moved to Arizona where he built a new one at half the cost, and spent the rest of his life playing golf. The deserts are gorgeous!

The Captain


In 2003, DH and I were living in Delaware. DH wanted to move west.

I had read that 1/3 of the people in California were receiving money from the state government, either because they worked for the government or received transfer payments (without work).

I told DH, “That money has to come from taxes. California is off the table.”

We ended up moving to Washington State which does not have a state income tax.



Those are tricky numbers to play with. States with a lot of retirees, have a lot of government income, due to Social Security. States with a lot of military bases or defense plants have a lot of government income (California has a lot of both)

This table ranks states by government employment as a percent of total employment. Washington ranks 18th, with 17.1% employed by government. California ranks 32nd, with 15.4% on government payrolls. Michigan ranks 40th, with 14.4%

Number of people on food stamps per 100K: California 10045, Washington 10029, Michigan 11286.


Percent of people on Medicaid. California 26% Washington 21%, Michigan 24%


One factor that needs to be included is that California straight up is a high cost of living state. The median house price in Orange County CA is $1 million. The median house price in Ada County (Boise) ID is $485K. Sure, wages are lower in Idaho too, but they aren’t half as much.

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California is the most populous state in the Union. They also have the highest GDP of any state in the Union.


On people wanting to leave, well it is the most populous state so they can afford for them to leave. As for having the highest GDP, people always seem to hate on those that are doing better than they are. You never see anyone talking about how many people are leaving Alaska lol.




My understanding that the 1/3 of people received income from the State of California, not from the federal government, which of course is separate.



As a long time CA native, I’ve seen our military bases here in the North Bay Area vanish over the decades. They closed Hamilton AFB, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Two Rock Army Base is now a Cooks and Stewards school, for the Coast Guard/

In San Francisco, the Presidio has been closed as a Military Base, more commercial, now… Very strange to be able to drive into the bases without a guard station, wander where you want…

Alameda Naval Base also gone…

So the North Bay has lost a ton of civilian jobs, many neighbors had worked at Hamilton, Mare Island, Two Rock… Different times… There are still a lot of other bases scattered around, but far away…


Between seniors, the disabled and school children that 30% figure is roughly what it is anywhere. If you are pointing to welfare most of that goes to seniors not people out of work. Unless you count seniors, the disabled and children as not employed.

That is certainly true for school children, college students, seniors of course and the disabled. It is true to varying degrees for every state.

OK. Is that an unreasonable number?

Found some numbers for Kalamazoo County. County non-farm work force: 144300.

Employed by government: 23300
Employed by WMU (state university): 2887
Kalamazoo Public Schools: 2300
Portage Public Schools: 2300
Kalamazoo Valley Community College: 1100
Total government employment 31,867, 22.1% of non-farm workforce. What else, besides direct employment by state, county, or city, government could cause people to receive income from the state? And how much of that income is significant to the recipients? Like I said, numbers like people receiving money from the government are tricky, especially if the person citing the numbers has an axe to grind.



Transfer payments, such as pensions and welfare.

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The bigger ticket item is education as usual. The state college system is very lavish.

The largest share of state spending goes to education – more than 50 cents out of every state dollar supports California’s public schools, community colleges, and public university systems. Google result


In states like Michigan, higher education has been largely defunded. University revenue from state funding has fallen from 80% of total revenue 50 years ago, to some 30% now, but you can still make a case that university employees receive money from the state. That “state money” is a minority portion of their income, compared to what is extracted from the students, but, careful wording can make it sound like university staff are entirely dependent on the government for income.

Another one came to mind last night: how many people win anything from the state lottery? Whether they win a Million, or $5, they are “receiving money from the government”.



Yes. The thing is, pensions are earned. The initial thing read, that 1/3 of people in California receive money from the state, is trying to make California sound like a socialistical society of welfare queens. I’m sure the facts are that, like in other states, the vast majority of people “receiving money from the state” in Cali earn it.



I love when idiots gamble on the lottery. Say 30% to 40% of what they gamble is used to cut any taxes I have to pay.

nah you end up paying more in taxes as well. When a state introduces the lottery the number of compulsive gamblers goes up. CT saw a rise from 3% to 7% of the general public. Those gamblers have problems paying their taxes. Their lenders need to write off loans. The gamblers become poorer consumers and savers which means those businesses are less taxed but for the wrong reason namely doing less business. You end up having to lift the load so to speak. Then there are the treatment centers and state social workers etc…you have lost this game.

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The thing is, for this particular discussion that’s irrelevant. The thing that was asserted is that because CA has lots and lots of payments to make (pensions, welfare, whatever), and since [almost] all the money for those payments come from state taxes, it is likely (surely?) a fact that taxes in CA are high. Therefore the poster decided to not consider CA as a place to live when moving out west, and chose a different state instead.


That is true. And generally most retirees have little choice about the hand they are dealt. Meaning after saving for a life time it is what it is money wise. Usually.

CA would be a mistake to move to. If you already are in CA longer term and have property the options are wider. Meaning you can sell and leave or you had in many cases a better opportunity to be employed and gain assets in CA.

I had neighbors with two very young daughters who could not afford CT. It was not just the taxes. The family moved to Bentonville, AR. He is an accountant who was hired by Walmart to head up their maintenance department company wide. She was a stay at home mom. The couple bought a house in Arkansas before moving day. They could not afford a house in Connecticut. He worked for Loctite. His career was solid.

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The counterpoint was are the number of people receiving payments from the state unusually high? Secondly, are people in Cali receiving services from government agencies, that people in other states need to pay a private company for? Some months ago, I commented with amusement the scene of NYC garbage trucks plowing snow. In Michigan, snow plowing is done by the government, but trash is collected by for-profit companies, and dumped in for-profit landfills. I know my mom received regular bills from the trash company.