Ventura County has an immigrant problem — it can’t keep its young adult working class inside its borders.
In a recent study by Apartmentlist.com, which looked at census data from 2005 to 2015 showing where young Americans are moving to and choosing to settle down, the results were unsettling. According to the study, from 2005 to 2015, the county’s largest city, Oxnard, saw a 13.2 percent decrease in its millennial population (aged 18-34 in 2015) and while the millennial homeownership rate fell nearly everywhere, Oxnard’s fell more than the national average, 14.0 percent vs. 7.4 percent.
Recently retired economist Bill Watkins confirmed this immigration problem in the California Lutheran University Center for Economic Research & Forecasting’s annual economic outlook for Ventura County. Watkins said:
“Like California, Ventura County was once a magnet for migrants from across America and the world. Recently, though, negative domestic migration has been a significant reason for Ventura County’s growth slowdown. More recently, international migration to Ventura County has softened to the point that net total migration has been negative on average for the past decade, and the most recent observation was negative. When net total migration is negative, it means that the economy is not vibrant enough to support the natural population increase, births less deaths.”
Watkins cites as the reason for this negative migration, the lack of growth in high-paying jobs, ever-increasing housing costs resulting in a growing disparity between the rich and the poor, and anti-growth voter-approved measures and slow-growth lawmakers. And so this not only sends a message to people who may want to move to the county but to those who want to stay here and can’t. This is a disheartening reality not only to millennials, but to the parents of young adults who have to find work and housing elsewhere. Still, these parents of millennials prioritize the bucolic landscape over young adult needs and wants — and these are the consequences. Ventura County is on track to be home to an aging wealthy population and the immobile impoverished.
With the election behind us, the country responding to the message of making American great again, Ventura County voters may have wanted Hillary Clinton, and they clearly want to preserve the life and landscape as they have known it for at least the last 20 years and wish to keep it that way for decades to come. The only casualty: the diverse and unique population that once served as a haven for all economic classes and age groups, which is clearly and quickly coming to an end. It’s a confusing time in our country and we can only hope that the outlook is somehow better for millennials in the coming years because, for now, in Ventura County, there won’t be many left.