Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin, spoke to the Los Angeles Times and NBC4’s NewsConference about California’s steep population decline. Between April 2020 and July 2022, the population dropped by more than 500,000 people. The number of residents leaving surpassed those moving in by nearly 700,000. Ong pointed to several economic, health and sociopolitical factors driving the exodus, with housing affordability at the top of the list. “California now has the highest housing burden — that is, the proportion of income that is going to pay for housing. Roughly between a fifth to a quarter of those who are financing a home or paying rent are spending more than half of their income on housing,” Ong told NewsConference. Los Angeles in particular saw a “fast, clear and sharp spike during the pandemic,” as remote work allowed people to move away from dense urban cores, he told the L.A. Times.