LOS ANGELES (AP) — During the recession, Los Angeles County lost tens of thousands of residents to the eastern counties of the Inland Empire despite the area’s staggering unemployment rate, new Census Bureau estimates reveals.
The migration marked the nation’s biggest net county-to-county movement from 2007 to 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
According to the Census data roughly 35,000 more people moved to the Inland Empire from Los Angeles County than the opposite direction. The migration occurred as Riverside and San Bernardino counties lost 144,000 jobs.
The gulf in housing costs continued to be a powerful force drawing the Pacific coast city’s residents eastward, where the median price for a home is almost $200,000 less than the $449,000 average in Los Angeles County, said John Husing, chief economist of the Inland Empire Econimic Partnership.
The people who moved included rich and poor spanning across educational levels, according to the newly released Census Bureau estimates.
“People respond to prices,” Husing told the newspaper. “The difficulty is that people move before the jobs move.”
At the worst point after the downturn, unemployment rates topped 14 percent in the Inland Empire, well above the California average.
The flow of people further inland and away from the coast will continue to shape how California plans for transportation, schools and water supplies, said Public Policy Institute of California senior fellow Hans Johnson.
“And all these discussions are driven by the fact that this population is moving to find more affordable housing,” he said.
People with less education left Los Angeles County for elsewhere in California and the nation at higher rates than did people with more schooling, according to an analysis by Brookings Institution demographer William Frey.
At the same time, the flow of immigrants into Los Angeles County from Asia, Central America and other parts of the globe included some 17,000 people with bachelor’s degrees or more advanced education.
The influx from abroad is the only reason Los Angeles County increased its number of residents with college degrees from 2007 to 2011, Frey said.
The recession helped slow the rate of relocation of Los Angeles residents.
The eastward migration was far higher before the downturn. Between 2000 and 2006, roughly 300,000 more people relocated from Los Angeles County to Riverside and San Bernardino counties than moved in the opposite direction, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.