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County Exodus Reaches All-Time High : Population: Figures show a loss of 4,296 drivers. The weak economy is forcing residents to seek opportunities elsewhere.

September 02, 1993|DARYL KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The exodus of Ventura County residents to other states reached an all-time high over the last year as a sour economy continued to drain the state and region of its workers, state officials said Wednesday.

For the fourth year in a row, more licensed drivers moved out of Ventura County than moved here from the other 49 states, according to the state Department of Finance.

State figures showed that 6,493 out-of-state residents moved here during the year ending June 30, but that 10,789 left--a net loss of 4,296 drivers. That rate of loss was the second highest of all urban counties in the state, behind only San Bernardino County.

High unemployment, steep housing costs and growing concerns about crime, crowded schools and the quality of life all contributed to the flow of non-immigrants out of Ventura County and California, state and local analysts said.

"People are going elsewhere to find opportunities that aren't here anymore," said Nancy Settle, a top Ventura County planner. "Large employers continue to lay off significant numbers of workers. And you certainly hear more about gangs and crime.

"A good indicator are your friends," Settle said. "I have friends that have taken off for Washington and Oregon and Idaho, where there's more of a rural setting and where they see better opportunities in the long run for their children."

Ventura County residents lost 5,100 jobs in 1992, state figures show. And the number of jobs by companies within the county dropped 9,600 during 1991 and 1992.

The county's jobless rate was 10.4% in July, the highest rate in more than a decade. The national rate was 6.9% in July.

"I think these (new figures) just confirm what the business community feels, and that is that the economy is not turning around and will not for a long time," said Dana Weber Young, past president of the Ventura County Economic Development Assn.

Ventura County's loss of drivers does not mean that the local population is dropping. In fact, the state estimated that county residents increased by 12,000 to nearly 700,000 in 1992 because of high birth rates and foreign immigration.

Ventura County's loss of licensed drivers reflects trends in counties throughout the state, especially Southern California, which has been hit hard by job cuts in the defense industry.

Three times more California drivers--a net of about 100,000--were lost to other states during 1992-93 than at any time since the state began keeping such figures in 1970. Drivers in Ventura County had increased every year until 1989-90, but have dropped each year since.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance said the prolonged California recession and high taxes are to blame.

"Companies are not expanding in the state, or they're moving to other states," state spokesman H.D Palmer said.

Mirroring statewide trends, most Ventura County drivers moved to neighboring western states, particularly Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Arizona. The net gain in those states totaled 2,869 drivers.

However, Ventura County bucked one state trend. While California had a net increase of young drivers overall, a development that bodes well for the future, Ventura County lost drivers among all age groups.

Net losses by age group in Ventura County were:

* minus 33 for ages 18-24;

* minus 471 for ages 25-29;

* minus 1,873 for ages 30-44;

* minus 1,591 for ages 45-64;

* minus 328 for ages 65 and over.

The new state figures showed that Ventura County remains a popular place to relocate for many California residents. Nearly 21,600 drivers moved into the county from within the state, while just 19,858 moved out.

By far the largest number of new arrivals were from Los Angeles County--from where a net of 4,194 drivers moved. Yet, the county lost residents to most other California counties, including 429 to Kern, 296 to San Diego, 248 to Riverside, 159 to San Luis Obispo and 139 to Fresno.

Ventura County Exodus JULY 1, 1992 TO JUNE 30, 1993

Moved to Moved From Ventura County Ventura County Net Nevada* 242 1,041 -798 Washington 373 922 -549 Oregon 247 775 -528 Colorado 289 798 -509 Arizona 468 954 -486 Utah 173 414 -241 Idaho 78 300 -222 Oklahoma 91 291 -200 Total, 50 states 6,493 10,789 -4,296

* States to which Ventura County is losing most residents. Changes reflect changes in address on California driver's licenses.

Source: State Department of Finance

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