Each day, just over 2,000 people cross the domestic borders of Southern California coming or going to create a new home. Over the course of a year, the steady flow of people paints a clear picture of Southern California’s future. As the nation enters a recession caused by the spread of COVID-19,  the solidity of Southern California’s employment base – and the continued inflow of talent from around the world and nation – promises to be a foundational element of the region’s continued vitality and growth.

This report explores Southern California migration patterns, describing the nuances of who is coming and who is leaving the region – and the implications of those patterns on the regional economy.

Key highlights include:

  • Southern California enters the current crisis from a position of strength, benefiting from migration patterns that reinforce its vitality and talent.
  • The region is growing, albeit slowly. Positive international migration and natural births & deaths balance out an annual domestic outflow of 140,000 people.
  • The region is defined by its deep integration and global connections: each year, around 150,000 people move from abroad to the region.
  • Southern California is an unrivalled magnet for talent and culture. Each year, the region draws thousands of highly-skilled workers (in occupations like management, business, and financial services; arts & media; science; and, technology) while manufacturing and service workers increasingly relocate to other areas.
  • The people moving into Southern California (younger non-families, highly-educated, affluent) have very different characteristics than those who are moving out (older families, less educated, and lower income).
  • In periods of economic distress, the relative attractiveness of Southern California is amplified: while people move less across the board in recessions, the unique concentration of economic opportunity in Southern California has been shown to draw an increased share of moving households to the region.