San Francisco Employment

As we first reported a week ago, roughly 20,000 workers have joined the workforce in San Francisco over the past year with total employment at 432,600 and an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent. For context with respect to our last boom, employment in San Francisco peaked at 465,500 in December 2000 with an unemployment rate at 3.0 percent.

Including Marin and San Mateo, total employment is currently 919,000 with an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, up 31,000 jobs year-over-year but versus a peak of 1,000,600 in December 2000 when the unemployment rate totaled 2.6 percent.

17 thoughts on “San Francisco Employment Trends And Dot-Com Context”
  1. The job trend is looking good right now, and has been for the last 2 years or so, although I’ve read it’s really only benefiting people in the tech world.
    That ~40K jump over one month in 2000 seems a little suspect, did they change the methodology then?

  2. Is it just me or does the graph does not appear the reflect a 20K increase in employment over the last year.
    And how does one interpret that employment of 432K = 8% unemployment rate and yet employment of just 33K more results in unemployment rate of just 3%?
    is that apples to apples? or there other changes in demographics that skew the %s?
    Please go easy on me…I am not very good at math/statistics

  3. I would argue the comparison with the peak of the “dot-com” bubble is favorable. I’d argue we wouldn’t want the frenzy of jobs, stocks, etc. to reach 1999 levels; that’s just asking for a crash. I know it’s anecdotal, but the “feel” of the jobs environment seems significantly more measured and stable than it was back then.

  4. CSK…it all depends on what the denominator is. The labor force must have been smaller in 2000.
    There are always counter-intuitive things about the unemployment rate, because the denominator is the labor force (which is self selected people either working or looking for work). Thus, right now, when the number of employed people is increasing, the labor force is also increasing as previously “discouraged” workers again seek to find a job. Therefore we’ve had a pretty static unemployment rate, even while things are undeniably getting better.
    end of lesson.

  5. Also keep in mind that the majority of the tech jobs these days are deep in the South Bay and not in SOMA startups.
    While, obviously, plenty of Google, FB, Netflix and Apple workers live in SF, many more live on the peninsula, East Bay, and South Bay closer to work and where things are more affordable.
    The Dot Com boom was much more concentrated in SF proper. So the shift in the SF labor force does not necessarily reflect the growth in tech in the Bay Area overall.

  6. According to this SF Gate article there are more tech jobs in The City now than ever before:
    “The city will have 28 percent more technology positions by the end of this year than it had at its 2000 peak, according to a new analysis of state employment data by real estate consultant Jones Lang LaSalle. Technology is San Francisco’s fastest-growing sector, and now occupies more office space in the city than any other industry.”
    I am pretty sure that a larger percentage of the overall regional technology jobs in SF proper than in 2000, but I haven’t seen anyone do a study of it. It is clear that the tech job market is booming in both regions.

  7. yeah, I don’t know where you get the idea that there are less tech jobs in SF. If anything it’s easier to find a tech job in SF than it was during the dotcom boom.

  8. Sorry, obviously I made a bit of an assumption and I was wrong.
    I do spend time consulting at a lot of the tech companies down south and my experience with the more mature tech companies are that the workers at those companies, for the most part, do not live in SF proper.
    But I admit to not having a good pulse on the start up scene in SF proper.
    In the immortal words of Emily Litella ‘Never mind’

  9. @lyqwyd … so my evidence is purely observational. I have the opportunity to spend time at many of the leading tech companies in on the Pennisula typically dealing with members of the IT and Finance teams and, typically, when the inevitable question of where everyone lives comes up I am the only person in the that actually lives in SF proper.
    Now of course plenty of the employees do live in SF, the shuttle buses are proof enough, but from my vantage point at those companies, the employees living in SF are the exception and not the rule.
    But clearly the linked article shows plenty of tech jobs are being created in SF proper.

  10. “That ~40K jump over one month in 2000 seems a little suspect, did they change the methodology then?”
    I think that was the month that dotcoms changed their hiring requirements across the board. Previously it was “Ability to code HTML plus BSCS, MSCS, or equivalent”. That was changed to “Ability to code HTML plus relevant mixology or barista experience”

  11. I think most of the peninsula tech workers in their 20s live in SF. But that trend reverses at 30 and above. Most of those in their 20s are not buying homes, but are adding to the increasing rental costs

  12. The four tech workers I know are all over 30 and all still live in SF or recently (last year) moved to SF. Perhaps the straight tech workers above 30 move out of the city.

  13. these employment figures are about 150,000 jobs lower than the actual numbers, fyi. It doesn’t say where the data above comes from, but it is substantially deflated from the actual. The official numbers from the state of CA for mid-2011 are roughly 550,000, and those numbers themselves undercount by a good 50,000 because they don’t include sole proprietors. At the peak of the boom in 2000 SF had closer to 650,000 jobs all told.
    [Editor’s Note: Our actual numbers above come directly from the State of California’s Employment Development Department. If you have a better source, we’re all ears.]

  14. Single people in SF, and couples without kids, tend to stay in SF, regardless of age, if that’s where their social circle lives. When couples have kids, then they may move to the Peninsula for more space and good schools, and a lifestyle more oriented around the kids.

  15. Here is a link the City Planning Dept’s most recent published “Commerce and Industry Report” (it’s from 2010):
    Their chart shows 608K jobs in the City in 2000, but if you ask them, they will tell you that it is an undercount. I believe they get their base data from the CA Dept of Finance. I bet if you read through the report you’ll find an explanation of the methodology. I’m not sure why two state agencies would put out substantially different job counts, but it may be because they’re doing the analysis for different purposes. Seems odd though.

  16. Oh, it just occurred to me why the numbers are different. I think the EDD numbers you’re showing are of employed SF residents, regardless of where they work. The Dept of Finance/Planning numbers are # of jobs in SF specifically, which a completely different universe. There are a lot more jobs in SF than there are SF residents in the workforce. About half the jobs in SF are held by non-SF residents. Note also that about a third of SF residents work outside of SF. One other thing is that the higher count on number of jobs in SF is of absolute number of jobs, not number of people employed in SF — a single person can have multiple jobs.

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