San Francisco saw the second largest population decline of all major cities in the U.S. in 2020, according to census data. Only one city —Baltimore — logged a greater population decline.
San Francisco’s population shrank by 1.39% between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, U.S. Census data shows. Before that, San Francisco’s population had been growing modestly since 2010. Baltimore, meanwhile, declined by 1.42%.
San Jose was the city with the third largest population decline, shrinking by 1.3% over that time period, though the city also had negative growth in 2019.
Though they top the list for population declines, San Francisco and San Jose are not necessarily outliers for having seen such declines. Among the 50 most populous U.S. cities, 15 shrunk during the pandemic, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago, according to the data.
So where were people leaving the Bay Area’s big cities going? Postal service data shows that they mostly moved to other parts of the Bay Area or California. A Chronicle analysis in March found 72% of address changes filed with the United States Postal Service resulted in moves to other Bay Area counties, and about a fifth went elsewhere in California.
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