Mar 29, 2024 - News

San Francisco's population on the rebound since 2022

Change in population, 2020 to 2023
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Axios Visuals

San Francisco lost nearly 62,000 residents from 2020 to 2023 — a 7% drop in population, but the city's population has begun growing again, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Why it matters: A growing population boosts commercial activity, new businesses and tax revenue — all of which stimulate growth in the local economy, Ted Egan, the city's chief economist, told Axios via email.

  • The city's rising population "is yet more evidence that the city is not in a downward spiral or doom loop" and is "on track," he said.

The big picture: San Francisco was hit hard by the work-from-home policies that enabled people to move to places with lower housing costs.

By the numbers: San Francisco's population declined from roughly 871,000 in 2020 to 808,000 in 2022, per the Census data.

  • Last year, the city's population began climbing again, reaching nearly 809,000.

Yes, but: San Francisco's population is still below its 2019 peak of nearly 882,000.

  • Meanwhile, the Bay Area ranked second to last for population growth from 2020 to 2023.
Change in population, 2020 to 2023
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Data was released this month for the Census Bureau's annual Population Estimates Program, which calculates the population between censuses.

Between the lines: The city's housing affordability crisis and what to do about it are major points of contention among elected officials and residents.

  • Just this week, city supervisors overturned Mayor London Breed's veto of legislation that will impose housing development restrictions on some historic areas in San Francisco, the SF Chronicle reports.

What they're saying: "Our lack of housing is at the root of so many challenges in San Francisco and California," like poverty, homelessness, economic revitalization and climate change, Breed told the Chronicle.

  • Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who authored the legislation, told the San Francisco Standard that "housing will get built, developers will still make sizable profits, but the reality is that they won't be able to destroy the very things that make San Francisco so special."

What we're watching: San Francisco voters this month passed Proposition A, a $300 million affordable housing bond.

  • Expect housing to be a major issue in the upcoming mayor's race.
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