San Francisco Employment San Francisco Employment 2-15

On the heels of a typical seasonal dip in January, the estimated number of people living in San Francisco with a job increased by 3,800 to a record 520,500 in February and the unemployment rate in the city is back below 4 percent (3.8).  That’s 19,500 more people living in San Francisco with a paycheck than at the same time last year.

Employment in San Francisco has jumped 25 percent in the past five years, an increase of 105,000 people with paychecks and competing for space since the end of 2009.

And in fact, there are now 55,000 more employed people living in San Francisco than there were at the height of the dot-com peak in December 2000 (at which point the unemployment rate in San Francisco measured 3 percent with a labor force of 480,000).

The unemployment rates in Marin and San Mateo both dropped in February as well, to 3.7 percent and 3.5 percent respectively, while the unadjusted unemployment rate across California has dropped to 6.8 percent.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by BayviewSF

    100k more employed residents in SF and a 25% increase in 5 years? I can’t believe this.

    Or was it interpreted incorrectly? Maybe 100k more jobs based in SF and many of these workers commute from east bay and peninsula? This is more believable.

    We need to know the total number of jobs based in SF and the total number of SF employed residents. Many times people confuse these two.

    [Editor’s Note: Believe it or not, the numbers above are correct and not as you’re incorrectly trying to rationalize.]

  2. Posted by BigV

    I would love to see the numbers for total new housing units built over those various time frames. SocketSite has done this in the past, and it is always eye opening! Combining that data together tends to help focus minds that are confused about the causes for housing prices….

    • Posted by Moto mayhem

      It’s clear that housing pricing driven by supply and demand. Tons of new jobs (100k)with only minute amount new housing (10k)

  3. Posted by BayviewSF

    In SF, 18% residents under 21, 16% over 62. That’s 34% non-working age. Also you have 10% residents as full time students. So only 54% of SF residents are available to work a job. That means that the maximum number of SF employed residents is 432k.

    Most likely the reported 520k jobs are only jobs based in SF. Many of these workers live outside SF.

    18 years and over 663931 85.48%
    Male 337037 43.39%
    Female 326894 42.09%
    21 years and over 640952 82.52%
    62 years and over 123704 15.93%
    65 years and over 106111 13.66%
    Male 44375 5.71%
    Female 61736 7.95%

    [Editor’s Note: Feel free to take it up with California’s Employment Development Department from which we pulled our numbers, but you might want to check the date of your data set and assumptions first. The 520,500 we reported above represents the estimated number of employed San Francisco residents, the estimated current labor force is 540,900.]

  4. Posted by Valley Dweller

    Kudos to the Editor for keeping the skeptics in line. 🙂

  5. Posted by anon

    Clearly though, if they’re having to revise three years of data it can’t be that cut and dried.

  6. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    But the reactionary self-styled “progressives” (sort of like how the media always remember to say “the self-styled Islamic State”) would have us believe that the techies have ruined everybody’s livelihood.

  7. Posted by CMG

    I know plenty of people over 62 who are still working and who most definitely consider themselves “working age”. That could certainly make up some of the difference.

    • Posted by SFrentier

      And ya gotta subtract working age people like me who are not working. Lots of bums in this town 🙂

    • Posted by Moto mayhem

      Only 10% of the people I know over 62 are not working. Most CEOs (not tech) are over 62

      • Posted by BayviewSF

        Apparently you do not know many retired people. Do people move out of SF once they retire? Probably not, at least retired tenants in rent controlled buildings. How any retirees live in rent controlled buildings?

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          ok bayview, how many % of people retire before age 62 these days? i mean really retire, including no longer working part-time or consulting. I think i will be able to financially retire before 55, but i plan to work until at least 85, at least consulting. idle minds are not good for long life.

  8. Posted by SFrentier

    Good thing Janet is still “patient.”

  9. Posted by BayviewSF

    It is very hard for me to believe this number.

    However, if this number is true and if SF population is around 800k, SF has run out of people to work. Next year, when we have another 20k new jobs in SF, you can count on the new workers living outside SF.

    SF has reached the ceiling for the number of employed residents!

    • Posted by SFrentier

      Why you surprised? SF has always had more jobs than working age people. That’s why it’s the big city of the area. People come here from places, like Brisbane, to work. How many good jobs do you think are in Brisbane or Colma (well, except for managing graveyards…heee…heee…)

    • Posted by anon

      A thought occurs to me, is this full time employment? Or just any sort of employment?
      If it’s the latter it becomes much less surprising to me.
      Just think of all the AirBnb hosts, uber/lyft drivers, task rabbits, web-laundry deliverymen and other members of the web 2.0 service worker army that has formed recently. Do all these people count as “employed”??

      • Posted by Jake

        The EDD website FAQ has detailed answers to almost all the questions about what they count and how. Unless you are really into statistics, the actual methods for computing these rates may be challenging to understand, but here is their answer on what the basic numbers mean:

        How does EDD define: Civilian Labor Force, Employment, Unemployment, and Unemployment Rate?
        Civilian Labor Force includes persons aged 16 and older who were not institutionalized or on active military duty and were either employed or unemployed.
        Employment includes those who: did any work as paid employees, worked in their own business or farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in a family business during the reference week (normally the week including the 12th of the month). It also includes those who had a job but did not work due to a temporary absence. Each employed person is counted only once, even if they had more than one job.
        Unemployment includes those who did not have a job during the reference week, were available for work, and made specific efforts to find a job sometime during the 4 weeks prior to the reference week.
        Unemployment Rate is the percent of the civilian labor force that was unemployed.

        • Posted by anon

          So any work at all is “employed”.
          Currently none of these web 2.0 service companies count those who do the service work as employees though. But since these companies consider them independent contractors, I assume the EDD would consider them “working in their own business” and thus counted among the ranks of the employed?

          Or maybe not. Glancing briefly at their methodology, it seems they use an employer survey, the Current Employment Statistics, as a primary data source. Since none of these workers are employees, I wonder if they get under-counted.

          Or maybe they get data from these employers regarding the use of independent contractors. And maybe these people get over-counted since many of these folks contract for multiple services. This probably raises the number of jobs per employed person vs times in the past.

          Either way, recent labor market changes could be messing with their statistical model.
          . Maybe the reason for the revisions.
          Weird that they have one labor market model for the LA region and one for the “Balance of California”. Wonder what’s so different about LA?

        • Posted by anon

          “Uber has enough local workers to rank it as one of the largest Bay Area places to work, ahead of Safeway, which has 18,450 Bay Area workers, according to the San Francisco Business Times. Kaiser Permanente has 30,324 workers, San Francisco has 26,901, UC Berkeley has 23,962 and UCSF has 20,295″

          And this is just Uber. Don’t underestimate how many of these new jobs are just service 2.0 jobs.

          • Posted by Jake

            Like most things Uber, this is wildly inflated and nearly irrelevant. How many trips do these drivers make, how much revenue do they generate, what share of the market? There was a recent article that in NYC there are more Uber drivers than taxi medallions, but the taxis still have 90% of all the trips.

            Of course they aren’t even Uber employees. May as well count all the people that ever sold anything on ebay or craigslist or etsy as their “workers”. Irrelevant stats, like counting eyeballs in the dotcom era, without knowing how they affect the income statement.

            EDD does breakdown the employment data by type of work. Not sure what you think a “service 2.0 job” is, but the big growth categories in the bay area are professional, medical, and hospitality.

          • Posted by anon

            “How many trips do these drivers make, how much revenue do they generate, ” … “without knowing how they affect the income statement.”

            Exactly my point, that a great deal of this employment is not high income.

            “Not sure what you think a “service 2.0 job”

            Essentially the service jobs related to these sharing economy companies, the uber drivers, lyft drivers, task rabbits, food delivery drivers, …

            There are certainly highly paid professionals creating the backend/marketplaces for these companies. But that’s not the bulk of the employment.

          • Posted by Jake

            It maybe that none of the uber drivers are counted in the employed stats. Slate just published an analysis (namelink). The whole article is worth a read, but here is the key part for our conversation:

            “the drivers who use Uber’s app to accept your request for a ride and pick you up are independent contractors, they fall under the BLS’s umbrella of “alternative employment arrangements.” They are tallied each month in the BLS/Census Bureau household survey but are excluded from the payrolls report.”

  10. Posted by Jake

    45% of the people of with a job located in San Francisco don’t live in SF. It has been around that percentage for at least 25 years. SF imports 300k workers or so on an average workday, mostly by car. They make up half the car traffic in downtown and SoMa during the commute.

    FWIW, something like 20% of the people that live in SF and have a job don’t work in SF. The vast majority of them drive to work. I haven’t looked up the stats for Bayview in a while, but likely a quarter or more of the people that live there and have a job drive to work in San Mateo or Santa Clara counties.

    • Posted by BayviewSF

      so 55% of total SF based jobs = 80% of employed SF residents. And this article says that SF has 520k employed residents.

      From this, there are 756k SF based jobs. Does this number match the statistics? If not, we need to check the numbers of 520k, 45% and 20%.

  11. Posted by BayviewSF

    With a 100k increase of employed residents in 5 years, the population growth might be underestimated. I am wondering where these new people are living. We know that the completed new constructions are much less than 50k units in the last 5 years.

    • Posted by Frank C.

      Look at traffic Bay Area-wide – it is markedly worse in the last 5 years. Workers are living further and further from the core, exacerbating congestion.

      Wthout lower cost inner-core housing (LOVE Oakland’s offer to take SF’s affordable housing), the Bay Area will be at Los Angeles levels inside of 10 years, and that will be sad.

      People who think all this unmanaged growth is good won’t miss what they had (mobility via car, a the time of day of their choosing) until it’s gone.

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        even those of us not living further from work are in traffic longer. My commute has increased from 30 to 42 minutes in the last 5 yrs. thats a 40% increase in mostly sitting idly, and the majority of that increase is getting to the freeway. we need to ind a way to increase speed on major city thoroughfares and make freeway access easier, while at the same time decreasing speed on small streets and making small streets more livable. either go underground or above ground and no one seems to like the overhead freeways

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      im pretty sure its less than 15K.

  12. Posted by BayviewSF

    SF’s impressive job growth is now limited by available commercial space. Pretty soon, total number of office jobs will plateau. What cities are the popular alternative office location for new companies or priced-out SF companies? Is it Peninsula or east bay?

    “According to data provided by Cushman & Wakefield, the city has added only 1.6 million square feet of office space between 2010 and 2014 – enough to contain only 6,000 – 8,000 new office jobs at typical employment densities. Since commercial vacancy is unlikely to fall further (it never fell below 9 percent in the 2008 peak period, for example) and the city is supply-constrained, office availability is likely to limit employment growth for the remainder of this economic cycle.”

    [Editor’s Note: Keep in mind that 3 million square feet of commercial space is currently under construction in the city and the pipeline of commercial development in San Francisco is at its highest point in over thirty years. In addition, existing firms are starting to shed underutilized space and new firms are packing more people into smaller spaces.]

    • Posted by San FronziScheme

      One underestimated reserve of office space is people’s homes.

      For instance my employer cannot physically expand without going through an expensive hunt for square footage, but they will allow anyone who wants to work from home to it. 1/4 of my co-workers are full time from home. Another 1/4 more than 2 days a week. We share desks when needed.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        Yes that’s a sound strategy that you’d think that companies would take advantage of. But during the first dotcom boom most growing companies addressed the office space shortage with wads of cash instead. Some of them went bankrupt based on their bad real estate decisions alone.

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        you lose a lot of team dynamic and strategic cross-thinking having people work from home. I worked for companies 10 yrs ago that allowed it, but it failed and the policy to changes to allow it 1 day/month. i managed about 25 people now and don’t allow it, and it seems the case for other executives i know.

        i would love to see the stats to see if the work from home option has decelerated in growth or even gone down.

  13. Posted by 4th Gen SFer

    Great statistics! Yay for SF for bringing the jobs to everyone!

  14. Posted by BayviewSF

    From what I read, population increase is around 30k to 40k in the last 5 years when the employed residents increased 100k. I guess that many unemployed and students have got jobs.

    • Posted by Jake

      There is also a population churning of existing residents leaving SF and people moving to SF. The current churn is very heavily weighted towards young employed people. For example, in the most recent Census ACS (2013), 20% of the 20-29 year-olds in SF had arrived in the past year and 18-29 year-olds make up the majority of the first year residents of SF while only being about 20% of the total residents.

      This helps explain things like the bump in bike commuters and the pressure in the Mission and some other neighborhoods where new arrival tech workers are concentrated for space (housing, soccer fields, bike lanes).

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