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Everyone, please say hello to the 26,730 residents the Bay Area has added in just 12 months.

But if you think that means the region is becoming even more overcrowded, think again: The Bay Area’s population growth is the lowest it’s been in 15 years and is on a downward path, mirroring a California-wide trend.

That’s according to data released this month by the state Department of Finance, which found California grew just 0.35 percent between July 2018 and July 2019. That’s the lowest rate since 1900. The five-county Bay Area’s population grew 0.42 percent, the lowest since 2005 when population growth was flat.

The declining growth is driven in large part by an exodus from the region, with 3,106 more people leaving the Bay Area than moving here. The net growth of new residents has come largely from babies born here and  they don’t take up a lot of space — yet.

Eddie Hunsinger, a demographer with the Department of Finance, also pointed to increasing death rates from an aging population and a declining birth rate as causes for the slow population growth. Although more Bay Area residents are moving out than moving in, he says the region and state continue to attract new arrivals.

“There’re still hundreds of thousands of people moving to California each year,” he said.

In the Bay Area, 39,200 more people moved here from other countries since July 2018 than left to live abroad. But that number was offset by the net migration of 42,300 people here who moved elsewhere in the country to states like Texas or Idaho.

Santa Clara County led the way in negative migration, with about 5,900 more people moving out than in. The county had the second-lowest growth rate in the Bay Area, at 0.26 percent, after San Mateo County’s 0.22 percent. Alameda County added about 11,400 new residents for a best-in-the-region 0.68 percent growth rate. Alameda and Contra Costa counties were the only two counties in the Bay Area with positive migration.

So why are people leaving?  Is it because the Golden State Warriors are bad again?

“One thing we know is that the cost of housing is astronomical and we also have transportation issues and quality of life issues,” said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. “For that reason we’re seeing this trend.”

Nearly two-thirds of Bay Area residents say the quality of life here has gotten worse in the last five years, according to a poll earlier this year for this news organization and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. It’s so bad that about 44 percent said they are likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years, with 6 percent saying they have definite plans to leave this year.

Hancock said Silicon Valley used to be a great place to start a business because of its proximity to venture capital, major research universities, a wealth of skilled workers and more. Back in the region’s heyday, many dreamed of becoming the next entrepreneur to make it big like Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard or Steve Jobs after working in a Palo Alto garage.

“Garages aren’t even cheap anymore in Silicon Valley,” he said. “We’re seeing entrepreneurs take their startups to other places.”

He pointed to another potential warning sign for bright-eyed young engineers and programmers who might have otherwise packed up their Patagonia jackets and Allbird shoes and come to the valley: Many of the valley’s big companies are caught up in scandals over privacy, their role in helping foreign governments influence elections or controversial contracts with immigration enforcement agencies.



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