Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

How California's housing shortage chases away the middle class

By Ethan Elkind

Next 10, a nonpartisan research entity (with whom I’ve worked on studies in the past), released a trio of reports that shows how California’s housing shortage and resulting high prices have chased middle class and low-wage residents out of the state:


  • California experienced a negative net domestic migration of 625,000 from 2007 to 2014. In other words, 625,000 more people moved out of California to other states than moved in to California from other states.
  • The vast majority of the out-migrants went to just five states: Texas, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Washington
  • California was a net importer of residents from 15 states and the District of Columbia from 2007 to 2014.
  • Californians 25 years of age and over that do not possess four-year college degrees accounted for more than 469,800 out-migrants. However, California was actually a net importer of nearly 52,700 residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • California remains the top state attracting international migrants, many of which are low-income earners and those who have obtained a bachelor’s degree.
  • While conservatives love to blame environmental laws for gutting the industries that support these kinds of workers, the data indicate that high housing costs dwarfs all other taxes as a drag on these workers. For many of them, they'd rather take a lower-paying job in a place with cheaper housing than get paid more in high-cost California.

    It would be great if conservatives (and progressives) would focus their ire on the policies that restrict in-state housing, namely local zoning and height restrictions and Prop 13.

    I won't hold my breath though.

    Cross-posted from Ethan Elkind's blog.