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Was there really a mass exodus of Americans from big cities during the covid pandemic? For many of the nation’s largest cities, the answer is yes: the pandemic has had an unprecedented affect on their populations.

Cities were mostly growing since 2000, although that growth waxed and waned with economic conditions. But when covid hit, many cities saw historic population losses, an analysis of census data by the Brookings Institution found.

San Francisco’s population fell 6.3%, New York City lost 3.5%, San Jose, Calif. lost 2.7%, and Chicago lost 1.65%.

Who bailed? In San Francisco, they were mostly young adults, particularly white people in their late 20s, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

They were also rich. The folks who fled New York represented some $21 billion in residents' income, according to the New York Times, and about one-third of the people who left moved from Manhattan and had an average annual income of $214,300.

Where did these folks go? Many New Yorkers headed upstate, according to Cornell University. Some San Franciscans went to cheaper states like Georgia, Florida, and Texas. Three suburban counties just north of San Francisco — Marin, Sonoma and Napa— saw a net increase of more than $7 billion in resident income. The Chronicle describes one couple who sold their San Francisco condo for $1.7 million and began building a 4,300-square-foot mansion on almost 2 acres in Monument, Colo.

They also may have gone to other cities: some cities did show positive growth during 2020-21, Brookings found. Several were cities that were growing rapidly before the pandemic, such as Charlotte, N.C., and Fort Worth, Texas.

Examining data going back two decades, Brookings analysts found that there was no individual year that comes close to showing the population declines that most cities experienced in 2020-21.

Of the 88 U.S. cities with populations exceeding 250,000, 77 showed either slower growth, greater declines, or a shift from growth to decline.

Based on the data from Brookings, here are the cities that lost and gained the most people during the pandemic.

new york manhattan nyc sh
2 san francisco sh
7 chicago sh
los angeles hollywood sh
8 san jose calif silicon valley sh
18 Philadelphia sh
Washington DC capitol christmas sh
2 boston sh
Dallas texas sh
14 Houston sh
portland oregon sh
29. Nashville, Tenn.
17 long beach calif sh
27 jersey city nj Stas Moroz : Shutterstock
20 st louis  f11photo : Shutterstock.com
15 milwaukee wisconsin sh
29 Baltimore Maryland sh
19 new orleans sh
6 denver  Sean Xu : Shutterstock
8 detroit mich sh
13 oakland calif BondRocketImages : Shutterstock
15 Indianapolis sh
28 hawaii Honolulu sh
1 Seattle amazon Rocky Grimes : Shutterstock
24 cleveland sh
23 Texas san antonio Luke.Travel : Shutterstock
1 phoenix botanical garden KateK89 : Shutterstock.
88 ft worth texas sh
99 north las vegas Wollertz : Shutterstock
19 Oklahoma City dog bike sh
1 reno nevada sh
94 bakersfield Richard Thornton : Shutterstock
Jacksonville Fla florida sh
13 Gilbert Arizona sh
9 colorado springs sh