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PolitiFact FL: Newsom is technically right — more Floridians are moving to California

FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom visits Ford Greenfield Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, to highlight his proposed budget that includes billions of dollars to accelerate the state's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) goals. Newsom is running for reelection in California, but his latest television ad is airing in Florida. The 30-second spot scheduled to air on Fox News starting Monday, July 4, takes shots at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his policies, while drawing a contrast with California.
Karl Mondon
Bay Area News Group via AP
FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom visits Ford Greenfield Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, to highlight his proposed budget that includes billions of dollars to accelerate the state's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) goals.

Fox News host Sean Hannity and Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., went toe-to-toe in an interview about California's immigration and economic policies compared with red states.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida were Hannity's go-to foils for Newsom and his state, and Hannity presented Newsom with a series of charts comparing Florida with California on the number of new business applications, income and corporate taxes, and domestic net migration.

Hannity pressed Newsom to explain why California’s population has dropped while Florida’s has gone up.

"They’re leaving," Hannity said in the June 12 interview. "Tell me why they’re leaving your state?"

Newsom pushed back, saying "18 states had declines in population," and then called out Hannity for not including "an interesting fact."

"Per capita, more Floridians move to California than Californians moving to Florida," Newsom said. "That, I don’t imagine, is in one of your eight slides."

Newsom is right that per capita, more Floridians have moved to California than the other way around, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

But there’s debate on whether the difference is statistically significant. According to the Harvard Business Review, this means whether we can be confident the result is not purely by chance.

What data shows about per capita moves between Floridians and California

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey tracks the number of people who move from state to state each year.

Jennifer Lynne Van Hook, director of the Population Research Institute at Penn State University, reviewed 2021 Census data, the latest available, and calculated that 1.16 per 1,000 Floridians moved to California in 2021 and 0.96 Californians moved to Florida that year.

"Although the difference in migration rates is substantively small, it is statistically significant," because of the very large sample sizes in the American Community Survey, Van Hook said.

READ MORE: PolitiFact FL: Miami-Dade public schools have seen a sharp increase in immigrant students

Hakan Yilmazkuday, a Florida International University economics professor, also calculated Census data and got the same results. But he believes that because the data relies on estimates that are subject to measurement errors, the figures are not statistically significant. Factoring in the margin of error could sway the data in either direction, Yilmazkuday said.

"It is almost impossible to measure each person moving across states," Yilmazkuday.

In raw numbers, close to 13,000 more Californians moved to Florida than the other way around. However, this does not account for the states’ population sizes. California has about 17 million more residents than Florida. And Newsom specified he was citing "per capita" data.

Newsom’s team provided as evidence an analysis of data compiled by researchers at the University of Minnesota. (The researchers’ IPUMS USA database uses American Community Survey data.)

According to calculations from Newsom’s team, close to 90 per 100,000 Californians moved to Florida in 2021, compared with nearly 123 per 100,000 Floridians who moved to California.

Migration trends between Florida and California have a slim margin

More Floridians moving to California per capita than the other way around is part of a nearly two-decade trend, said Stefan Rayer, director of the University of Florida’s Population Program in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

But the migration levels are small.

"Historically, migration exchanges between Florida and California have been rather inefficient, with net migration being close to zero," Rayer said. "And the overall numbers of migrants have been rather low considering the population sizes of the two states."

Rayer said there’s no one best way to calculate migration between states because there are many variables to consider, such as the states’ population sizes and the reasons people move.

"In a narrow sense, I’d say the statement is correct," Rayer said. "But it may not be the most meaningful statistic. In general, there isn’t that much migration between these two states."

Yilmazkuday, said he would consider Newsom to be correct, despite his calculations that the rate differences are not statistically significant. However, he said if he were making Newsom’s statement, he would say "something like ‘the per capita migration from Florida to California is pretty much the same as that from California to Florida.’"

Our ruling

Newsom said, "Per capita more Floridians move to California than Californians moving to Florida."

The Census Bureau’s latest data shows that per capita, more Floridians moved to California than the other way around in 2021. But the difference is small.

Experts gave varying answers as to whether the margin was statistically significant, but they agreed that the slim differences make this argument technical, and not necessarily meaningful.

Newsom’s statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information. We rate it Mostly True.

Our sources

Maria Ramirez Uribe is an immigration reporter at PolitiFact.
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