California’s popularity as a destination for immigrants has declined significantly, according to a study recently released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). In a shift that began in the late 1990s and has accelerated this decade, new arrivals to the U.S. have increasingly chosen to live in states with little history of immigration.California

California’s immigrant population is still the largest in the nation and continues to increase, but that growth has slowed. The percentage of immigrants choosing to live in the state declined by seven points between 1990 and 2007, from 33 percent of the nation’s immigrants in 1990 to 26 percent in 2007, according to the U.S. Census data analyzed in the study.

This trend is mirrored within the state, with immigrants increasingly likely to settle outside traditional immigrant enclaves. Although Los Angeles is home to far more immigrants than any other county in California, its immigrant population grew by just 1.8 percent per year between 1990 and 2007, compared with 11.9 percent growth per year in Riverside County and 9.9 percent in Kern County.

“Many immigrants—particularly Latinos—are moving to new destinations that have less established social networks but growing economic opportunities,” says Sarah Bohn, PPIC research fellow and author of the study. “Immigrants are increasingly likely to base their decisions about where to live on wages and jobs.”