More immigrants than Americans resettle in California, report shows

Where Sacramento residents go when they leave California

Here are the top five cities that people from the Sacramento region chose when they decided to move from California in 2015.
Up Next
Here are the top five cities that people from the Sacramento region chose when they decided to move from California in 2015.

The Golden State is still a magnet for immigrants who want to build a life in the United States, but it’s a less attractive destination for other Americans.

A new report from Governing Magazine shows that California is unlike other western states in that most of its newcomers arrive from foreign destinations instead of other American states.

West Coast neighbors Oregon, Washington and Nevada, by contrast, continue to lure migrants from other parts of America. Washington State, for instance, tends to collect a lot of Californians, according to state records.

Among western states, California has a fairly high percentage of residents who are native to the state.

When looking exclusively at American-born Californians, about 64 percent of Californians are natives to the state. That ratio is similar to Midwestern and Northeastern states, according to Governing.

But when Governing added foreign-born Californians into its analysis, the share of native Californians among the state’s 39.5 million residents dropped to just 40 percent.

The report reflects a demographic trend that has California exporting more residents to other states than it receives every year. That migration is offset by an influx of foreign immigrants. The Sacramento Bee in 2017 found the trend was especially pronounced among lower-income families who left California for less expensive states.

Southern California has the highest proportion of foreign-born residents. Los Angeles County, for instance, has nearly as many foreign-born adults as American-born residents. About 3.1 million foreign-born adults live there, while 2.3 million native California adults and 1.2 million Californians from other American states reside in Los Angeles County.

Altogether, about 27 percent of the state’s adult population hails from overseas.

In Sacramento County, 48.3 percent of adult residents were born in California and 27.1 percent were born in a foreign country.

In Fresno County, 52.5 percent adults are native Californians. In Merced County, it’s 45.2% in Merced County; 52.3% in Stanislaus County; and 57.2% in San Luis Obispo County.

The full report is online at

Related stories from Sacramento Bee