Population is the number of people living in San Francisco. Changes from year to year tell us whether the population is growing or shrinking. This page tracks:
- Population in San Francisco by year
- Migration into and out of San Francisco by year
Why do we track these metrics?
Change in population is an important indicator of economic health. It shows us whether people feel the city has good economic opportunities, offers a high quality of life, and is more appealing than other places. In turn, growth or shrinkage in the population gives us a sense of whether a place has the labor supply and consumer spending that it needs to grow economic activity.
We track the factors that contribute to our total population change to help us understand why the population changed: births, deaths, migration into the city, and migration out of the city.
Net Migration is the number people moving in minus the number moving out of the city. It shows us whether people feel the city has good economic opportunities, offers a high quality of life, and is more appealing than other places. In turn, growth or shrinkage in the population gives us a sense of whether a place has the labor supply and consumer spending that it needs to grow economic activity.
Migration can be a positive number if more people move in than move out, or a negative number if more people move out than move in.
Migration can be domestic or international. Domestic migration is people moving to or from another location in the U.S. International migration is people moving to or from another country.
Population also increases when people are born and decreases when people die. We include these components to account for all the sources of population change.
How do we interpret these metrics?
San Francisco's population grew in from 2010 to 2019. That growth slowed beginning in 2016 and began to decline in 2019.
- Net domestic migration added residents to the city in the first half of the decade. Then from 2016 to 2019, more residents moved out of the city to another location in the U.S. than moved in.
- Net international migration added about 6,100 to 7,400 residents in every year in first half of the decade. Growth from other countries slowed from 2016 to 2019. In 2019, net international migration added 4,500 people.
- The net change from births and deaths added about 2,500 to 3,500 residents per year, meaning more people were being born in San Francisco than were dying.
During the pandemic, the trend of net migration out of the city accelerated. The city experienced a net loss of 54,813 people from 2020 to 2021.
- Domestic migration decreased the population by 55,631.
- International migration added only 957 people.
The pandemic created new opportunities and obstacles to living in San Francisco. Some workers lost their jobs when businesses laid off employees and others made personal decisions to retire or leave the labor force. Some of these people may have decided to leave San Francisco as a result. Other workers could keep their jobs, but chose to move out of the city.
Additionally, travel restrictions and border closures reduced migration worldwide. The U.S. suspended in-person immigration services and visa processing during the pandemic. (Pew Research Center, 4/4/2022).
Births and deaths also contributed to the net loss in population. Births were lower in 2021 than in any year from 2011 to 2019. Births added 7,944 people in 2021. Deaths in 2021 were higher than in any year from 2011 to 2020. Deaths reduced the population by 7,135 in 2021. The net change from births and deaths was an increase of 809 people in 2021.