Bay Area Job Watch

January 2018

Bay Area job growth in 2017 was much stronger than initially reported and the mid-summer slump turned out to be very mild and quickly reversed. The revised December 2017 estimate was 20,100 higher than the pre-revision estimate based on large upward revisions for the Oakland and San Jose metro areas.


January 2018 was a solid month for the regional economy with continuing good news on the housing front. Job growth totaled 90,900 between January 2017 and 2018 toward the upper range of recent year over year job growth.


The Bay Area Again Outpaces the Nation in Job Growth

The Bay Area posted a 2.4% job growth rate during the past 12 months equal to the state average and far above the 1.5% U.S. gain.


Job growth in January 2018 was led by the San Jose metro area with all metro areas but Napa showing growth of 2% or more.


January unemployment rates are typically up from December rates but the year over year comparisons show a strong decline in rates. The number of unemployed residents fell by 38,500 between January 2017 and 2018.


Housing permit levels surged in 2017 led by strong gains in Santa Clara and Alameda counties.


But there are many indications that companies and communities are responding to growth challenges and planning for the future.

But the overall housing shortage is not evenly distributed among price and rent categories. Very low income households are those making between 0% and 50% of area median income (AMI). Low income ranges from 50% to 80% of AMI and moderate (middle income) ranges from 80% to 120% of AMI. With funding and approval challenges, it is not surprising that the low and very low income targets are not being met. But the shortage for middle income households is virtually the same as that for low and very low income households.

So there is a lot of work to be done at most income levels to make housing more affordable in the region.


Perhaps the hardest challenge to overcome is the lack of affordable housing for middle income residents who are not eligible for subsidized housing even if it were available in sufficient quantity.

These economic updates are authored by Stephen Levy, Director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, and a member of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute board.