Inland Empire population growth 5th largest in the US – Daily News

on Mar28
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You do not have to be stuck in traffic on the 10, 60 or 91 to know just how fast the Inland Empire is growing.

Yet the push of new people into Riverside and San Bernardino counties is huge, even on a national scale.

New US Census Bureau stats tell us the Inland Empire added 47,601 people in the year ended July 2021, the fifth-biggest gain among the 50 largest metro areas.

That’s a sharp contract to the region comprising Los Angeles and Orange counties, which lost 175,913 residents, the nation’s second-worst decline. Note that 24 of these 50 giant metro areas suffered population declines.

The gain pushed the Inland Empire population to 4.65 million residents as of July 2021, making it the 12th most populous metro area in the U.S. L.A.-O.C. fell to 13 million people, still No. 2 behind the New York-New Jersey region.

My trusty spreadsheet says the Inland Empire shines even when looking at the rate of population growth — its 1% increase for the year was the ninth-largest gain among the big metros. L.A.-O.C.’s 1.3% drop was fourth-worst.

Paycheck power

So what’s the secret sauce for Riverside and San Bernardino counties?

Let’s start with the job market. The Inland Empire had 1.57 million jobs last year — 16,300 more than pre-pandemic 2019.

Yes, Los Angeles County had 4.3 million jobs, but that’s 266,400 fewer workers than before coronavirus. And Orange County’s 1.58 million jobs were 95,000 workers short of pre-COVID-19 numbers.

Now add in home prices. Rough commutes from the I.E. were previously seen as a roadblock to more eastward relocations. Enter the pandemic and working from home, and the region is now more attractive.

The paychecks also stretch farther inland. Ponder February’s estimated house payments — assuming 20% down — by county …

Orange: $3,512 monthly on the $985,000 median — and that’s after finding a $197,000 downpayment.

Los Angeles: $2,852 on $800,000 — with a $160,000 downpayment.

Riverside: $2,015 on $565,000 — with a $113,000 downpayment.

San Bernardino: $1,729 on $485,000 — with a $97,000 downpayment.

The Inland Empire’s overall cost of living is 8% below L.A.-O.C., according to a federal price-parity measure.

Family appeal

A peek deep inside the new population counts shows the attraction of jobs and affordable housing.

The Inland Empire had more arrivals than departures in the 12 months that ended in July 2021— a net in-migration of 34,859 and fifth-best among the big 50. But L.A.-O.C. had a net outflow of 204,776 — the second-worst rate among the 50.

The pandemic era has seen numerous folks choose to move away from larger population hubs across the nation — 28 of the giant U.S. metro areas had more exits than arrivals.

The Inland Empire mix also appeals to young families.

The region saw a noteworthy “natural growth” with 13,180 more births than deaths, the seventh-best performance among the big 50. L.A.-O.C. also had natural growth of 24,605 — fifth-largest.

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