The California mystique is back.
Ever since the Gold Rush, California has been known as the
cradle of the American dream, a land where ordinary people have a
chance at a better way of life.
For many, that dream ended in the late 1980s, when the state
suffered its worst recession since the Great Depression.
As a result, California has witnessed an exodus of residents
fleeing the state for better jobs and cheaper living: The Los
Angeles spandex set was packing its Range Rovers to move everywhere
from Seattle to Sun Valley.
But times have changed.
For the first time in six years, more people are moving into
California from other states than are exiting.
The turnaround signals not only that California's economy has
rebounded, but so has Americans' faith in the Golden State as the
land of opportunity. Paradise Lost has once again become Paradise
"The decade-long ordeal of restructuring California has been
accomplished and the California dream has been recovered," says
Kevin Starr, a state historian at the California State Library in
According to the state Department of Finance, which tracks
migration figures, 20,729 more people came to California from other
states than moved away for the year ended last June 30 - the first
increase since 1991. That compares with a decrease the year before
What's more, this wave is expected to continue. The
Department of Finance forecasts a net migration of 55,000 in 1998
and 65,000 the following year. "We weathered the recession and have
become a job-creating state with a vengeance," says H.D. Palmer, a
spokesman for the Department of Finance.
Indeed, California has rebounded from the consolidation of
the aerospace industry in the early 1990s, which cost hundreds of
thousands of jobs. Since then, the economy has shifted away from
defense. Today high-tech, Hollywood, and small businesses are
Last year, for example, California created an estimated
480,000 jobs and is on course to create 365,000 more this year. And
that's putting the Golden State back on the map as a relocation
Respite from disasters
At the same time, a lack of earthquakes, fires, floods, and
urban unrest - which marked the early 1990s - leaves more people
remembering the palm trees and 70-degree winters.
In the past six months, Dilbeck Realtors in Pasadena, Calif.,
for example, has seen a big jump in the number of people relocating
to the area from other states.
"It's definitely a function of the economy being so much
better and companies starting to grow again," says Jill Silvas,
vice president of corporate services. …