Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1 minute read

April 10, 2024, 7:00 AM PDT

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310


Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Daly City, California. | Uladzik Kryhin / Adobe Stock

“Unfortunately for everyone involved, all six cities are on a recently published list of the '18 Fastest-Declining Cities in the U.S.' They are accompanied by Monterey Park, South San Francisco, Daly City, and four other California cities, meaning that California cities comprise more than half of the list. San Francisco took the 'top' spot for the most rapidly declining city.”

“‘Rapid decline’ connotes all sorts of urban destitution. You'd think someone shut down our factories, set our rivers on fire, boarded up our businesses. These are the hallmarks of legacy cities where work has disappeared or where structural inequities have been impossible to shake. These misfortunes explain, in part, why residents leave the St. Louises and Jacksons of the world.”

“The California specimens — as well as New York City, which ranked No. 2 — tell a far different story. California's 'decline' is not a function of a lack of prosperity. It is because of prosperity. More specifically, it's due to our inability to manage our prosperity.”

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