California exports more than commodities such as movies, new technologies and produce. It also exports truck drivers, cooks and cashiers.
Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.
About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000. During the same period, the state experienced a net gain of about 20,000 residents earning at least five times the poverty rate – or $100,000 for a family of three.
Kiril Kundurazieff, 56, is among the low-income residents who left California. He spent more than a decade working in a small bookstore, then at Target, then at a Verizon call center, in Southern California. After some medical issues that hampered his eyesight, he found himself unemployed in Santa Ana, with monthly rent of about $1,000 in 2012.
“There was really nothing left for me in California,” said Kundurazieff, who also writes a blog about his cats. “The cost of living was high. The rent was high. The job market was debatable.”
Friends in Texas suggested he relocate. He now works at a Walmart in Houston, making a little north of $10 an hour. He works 40 hours a week, riding his bike about 7 miles to work many days. He does not pay state income tax. His rent is just over $500, with utilities.
About the same time that Kundurazieff was leaving, Tamara and Kit Keane were arriving from Oklahoma. Both had been working on their doctorate degrees at Oklahoma universities, Kit in biology and Tamara in education.
The Keanes already knew California. Kit, 34, was born and raised in Sacramento. Tamara, 31, spent most of her life in Southern California. They met at UC Davis about a decade ago.
With graduate degrees, they had options. They liked the cost of living in Oklahoma and bought a two-bedroom house with a backyard for the bargain basement cost of $121,000.
But they wanted to come back to California, for its beauty and to be near family. “We knew coming here, we would have to make a lot more money to live a similar lifestyle,” Tamara Keane said.
After moving back last year, both now work for the Twin Rivers Unified School District as teachers on special assignment. They are expecting a child and recently purchased a three-bedroom house in Hollywood Park for $360,000. Tamara is still working on her Ph.D.; Kit is looking into eventually teaching at the university level. “Teacher salaries are not great,” Tamara Keane said. “But they are enough for us to want to come here.”
Well-paid new arrivals in California enjoy a life that is far out of reach of much of the state’s population. Besides Hawaii and New York, California has the highest cost of living in America. Read the rest of this entry »