Improving economic opportunity for the Bay Area’s low- and moderate-wage workers
Home to some of the world’s most prestigious and forward-thinking businesses and innovators, the San Francisco Bay Area has long been an economic powerhouse.
While the regional economy was challenged by the past decade’s economic downturn, the Bay Area is in the midst of a strong economic recovery with rising job levels and declining unemployment.
However, the benefits of prosperity are not universally shared. The rising tide is not lifting all boats and not yet affecting all parts of the Bay Area. The hallmark of a truly prosperous regional economy is one where the benefits and opportunities of that prosperity are broadly available to many of those within it.
In the Bay Area, more than 1.1 million workers, over one third of the total workforce, earn less than $18 per hour (or less than $36,000 per year for full-time work). The majority of these workers earn less than $12 per hour. Further, the number of jobs that pay wages less than $18 per hour has risen during the economic recovery, and these low-wage jobs are expected to increase even more over the coming years.
To put these earnings into sharper perspective, a household with two adults and two children in Alameda County would need to earn over $65,000 per year (or more than $30 per hour) just to meet the bare minimum required to cover basic expenses.2 Using this same self-sufficiency standard, a four-person household would have to earn close to $60,000 per year in Solano County and over $75,000 per year in San Francisco. For a large proportion of the region’s population, earnings are low relative to the region’s high cost of living. In addition, opportunities for economic mobility are scarce. There are many lower-wage jobs relative to middle-wage jobs and the pathways for upward mobility are limited. As a result, too many of the region’s workers remain in lower-wage jobs without clear paths to advance.
This Economic Prosperity Strategy report brings critically needed focus to the challenge of improving economic conditions for low- and moderate-income Bay Area residents and workers. While the region offers many advantages, there are also significant opportunities for improvement. The report identifies strategies aimed at creating a Bay Area economy with greater economic opportunity and mobility.