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Here’s something we haven’t looked at for a long time: San Diego population growth and migration patterns.

This was a favorite topic of mine back in the day when San Diego’s housing bubble cheerleaders implied some sort of population explosion via their favorite catch-phrase, “Everyone wants to live here.”  In fact, San Diego’s population was growing quite modestly at the height of the boom.  And San Diego’s supply of housing was growing faster than its population.  And domestic migration was firmly negative, meaning that more Americans were moving out of San Diego than moving in.  The mild population growth was actually due to foreign immigration and, moreso, to new San Diegans being born.  (My little joke at the time was that even Countrywide wasn’t yet making home loans to fetuses).

But I digress.  The point is that this once-popular topic has lately been neglected here at Nerd’s Eye View.  Let’s have a look at the latest numbers:

The orange bars on the above graph represent San Diego’s population in a given year, while the red bars represent the percent change in population from the year prior.  At 1.2 percent, 2010’s population growth was middle of the road for the past decade.  Even at its lowest in 2006, population growth was always positive.

The same can’t be said for domestic migration (which hasn’t yet been estimated for 2010):

This chart is slightly different from the prior one.  The orange bars represent the net number of Americans moving into or out of San Diego.  In order to measure the impact on the county’s population, the orange bars denote how big that net domestic migration number was as a percent of total population.

For each year starting in 2004, with 2008 as the lone exception, more Americans have chosen to move out of San Diego County than to move into it.  Domestic migration has trimmed its losses since the housing bubble years but as of 2009 it was still negative.

Net foreign migration (people moving from or to other countries) has been positive the entire decade and increased the population by .46 percent last year.  The “natural increase” in population — births minus deaths — has also been positive all decade and has been the bigger contributer to population growth.  Last year the natural increase accounted for .86 percent of population growth.  Domestic migration removed .10 percent of the population, with the three categories accounting for a total increase of 1.23 percent.

While we don’t know the components yet, overall population is estimated to have risen about the same amount in 2010.

— RICH TOSCANO

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