The Bay Area is the only region in California where more people are moving in from elsewhere in the United States than moving out, another sign of the tech industry's rebound and the creation of more jobs here, according to a state population report released Thursday.
Alameda and Contra Costa counties led the region in "domestic migration," the report says, adding some 5,142 and 3,671 people, respectively.
"It shows that, at least population wise, the recession is starting to dissipate, people are coming to employment areas and they're pretty obviously coming to the Bay Area and to some degree Southern California," said John Malson, a state demographer who helped produce the Department of Finance population report.
At the same time, California's population rose to 38.2 million people, an increase of 332,000 from July 2012 to July 2013. That's less than 1 percent more, but the highest gain for the state since 2003-2004 before the recession. Most of the uptick was due to a "natural increase" of more births than deaths.
Foreign immigration to the Bay Area has remained strong, as it did throughout the recession years in the mid 2000s, adding 169,266 people to the state during the 12-month period.
The "domestic migration" numbers are the best indicators of a region's economic health. The statewide numbers continue to be negative, with 103,000 more people leaving California than coming here during the period -- a downward trend that has continued since 2001.
Domestic migration within the Bay Area has bounced for the last few years and is now in positive territory, with some 4,800 more people moving in than moving out. While Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa and Santa Cruz counties enjoyed gains during the 12-month period, the two main employments hubs of the Bay Area -- Santa Clara and San Francisco counties -- saw 3,522 and 1,824 residents, respectively, move away. Just over 1,900 people left San Mateo County.
"They're not leaving the region. They're just leaving San Francisco and Santa Clara counties because of the cost of living," Malson said. "They're probably just moving over to Alameda and Contra Costa where they can afford to live, but work in San Francisco."
San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo all saw net migration gains, however, when foreign immigration was factored in. Still, Alameda County showed the strongest gains, with more than 15,000 new arrivals both foreign and domestic. Santa Clara County was close behind with a net migration gain of 11,537.
Alameda and Santa Clara counties, plus Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, account for more than half of the state's growth. Most of the growth was due to more births than deaths, but all have positive net migration as well.
At the same time, 10 counties -- mostly mountain and rural counties across the state -- experienced a "natural decrease" of population, with more deaths than births. They include Nevada, Calaveras, Trinity, Sierra and Amador.
"It tells me the opportunities in California are happening in already established areas," Malson said, "while in the more rural areas of the state, they're not."
Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409. Follow her at twitter.com/juliasulek