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The Wealthy Residents Who’ve Left San Francisco Have Taken Billions in Income With Them

New IRS data shows the scope of the population outflow.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 27: In an aerial view, cars drive by the San Francisco skyline as they cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on October 27, 2022 in San Francisco, California. According to a report by commercial real estate firm CBRE, the city of San Francisco has a record 27.1 million square feet of office space available as the city struggles to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic. The US Census Bureau reports an estimated 35% of employees in San Francisco and San Jose continue to work from home. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There’s an exodus going on in the Bay Area, and it’s not just Twitter employees fleeing the company.

An analysis of tax return data suggests that wealthy San Francisco residents moved out of the city during the early years of the pandemic, taking billions in income with them, according to according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In 2020, 32,000 more people left San Francisco than moved into the city, and the income of those who cut out was nearly $8 billion more than those who came. That only compounded a problem the city was already experiencing. The year prior, San Francisco saw 39,000 more people depart than arrive, representing a net loss of $6.9 billion in salary. That means the city saw $15 billion dollars of income leave in a two year span. 

The IRS follows migration patterns by checking if tax filers listed different addresses on their forms than the year prior. Then, the agency can track how many people depart a region, and of course, the income of the individuals coming and going. During the two years the Chronicle analyzed, the average annual income of citizens leaving San Francisco was $153,000, while the people arriving earned $103,000 a year.

San Francisco’s chief economist Ted Egan told the Chronicle that the data may not necessarily mean wealthy people are fleeing en masse. He explained that it’s possible that a small number of extremely wealthy people are driving the average. While the paper conceded that the IRS doesn’t disclose data on individual incomes, it also noted that U.S. Census Bureau data shows that “the San Francisco metro area’s median household income fell between 2019 and 2021.”

Of course, it’s not just people leaving the City by the Bay. Nordstrom announced this week it would close its downtown store, joining retailers such as Office Depot, Whole Foods, and Anthropolgie that are all giving up locations in San Francisco.

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