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Yes, people are leaving San Francisco. After decades of growth, is the city on the decline?

Plunging BART and Muni ridership. The weakest online sales tax collections in the state. A 20% drop in apartment rents. Spiking office vacancies.

San Francisco’s bleak economic vital signs over the past six months strongly suggest residents are leaving amid record job losses, the entrenchment of remote work, and a coronavirus pandemic that shows no signs of ending.

It’s still unclear how many people have left, but moving vans and Medium posts tell the story of an ongoing migration. Weakness in the rental market and virtually flat online spending during shelter-in-place show that residents aren’t just staying home, they’re leaving, experts say. The city’s ability to attract new residents or lure old ones to return will be critical to avoid punching a giant hole in a local budget that has swelled to almost $14 billion.

In an increasingly virtual economy where daily goods are delivered not for convenience but out of pandemic-driven necessity, all you have to do is count the Amazon boxes.

Between April and June, the nine counties across the Bay Area saw big drops in brick-and-mortar sales taxes as orders to stay home took effect, ranging from a 17% drop in Santa Clara County to a 53% drop in San Francisco, compared to the prior year. But eight of the counties — everywhere but San Francisco — saw major jumps in online sales taxes, as high as 36% for Contra Costa County.

San Francisco saw only a 1% increase in the tax collected on online sales. That figure was by far the worst not only in the region, but among California’s 20 largest counties. Los Angeles County saw a 31% increase in online sales taxes, San Diego County saw a 38% jump and Sacramento County saw a 32% spike.

“That’s a sign to me that people aren’t here,” said Ted Egan, San Francisco’s chief economist. Read more via BeaumontEnterprise

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