Regional Economy and Governance

The Bay Area economy has been the envy of the world for fifty years running. Our business leaders have revolutionized industries from semiconductors to personal computers to the internet to social media and in healthcare, biotechnology, environmental science and many other fields. Today’s challenge is to preserve the growth and resilience of our economy and to share our prosperity more broadly, particularly through the creation of more middle wage jobs. In order to ensure the Bay Area’s economic vitality and resilience despite increasing boom and bust cycles, public and private sector leaders must come together around pragmatic solutions to persistent issues and barriers to success.



Business Taxes in the Bay Area

To investigate the business tax landscape across the Bay Area, the Institute analyzed the 20 largest job centers across the southern five counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara). The analysis that follows summarizes business tax structures and rates across the region using three hypothetical companies.

Sea Level Rise

Much of the detailed planning for how to address these challenges is taking place at the regional and local level. The state supports those efforts by encouraging regional-scale collaboration, supporting local planning and adaptation projects, providing data and analysis, and enhancing public awareness of sea level rise risks and impacts.7 Much of this occurs through the Ocean Protection Council (OPC), a high-level state government panel created in part to protect ocean health in the face of climate change. Based on evolving scientific knowledge, the OPC develops state-level approaches that respond to the anticipated impacts of storms, erosion and sea level rise on coastal communities.

Innovation Platform

From this high-level review, it appears that despite some attrition in corporate innovation offices the global innovation presence remains strong.

Optimizing Land Uses Near Transit Stations

There have been numerous studies bolstering the case for residential development near transit stations. Less understood, however, are the benefits of commercial development near transit and what increased office and retail space along key transit corridors could mean for the Bay Area’s transit system, regional labor force, and economy more broadly.

The Future of Advanced Technology and Basic Research

California is globally recognized as the world’s leading center for technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial opportunity. While most concentrated in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley Bay Area, technology assets are spread throughout the state. The economic strength that flows from this unique capacity has produced high-value jobs and world-leading companies and puts California at the leading edge of current and emerging technologies that will transform the world’s economy in coming decades. The income that this activity generates is also a critical source of revenue for the state through personal income taxes (PIT) due to the substantial workforce dedicated to advancing technology in California. In the state’s 2019-2020 fiscal year, PIT accounted for 66.19 percent of California’s General Fund revenues, much of which are driven by taxation on technology initial public offerings (IPOs) and stock gains.

An Analysis of Oakland’s Proposed Business Tax Increase

The increased business tax will eliminate jobs today and into the future, harm a range of large and small employers, choke off future city revenues and development, and make the city’s budget highly reliant on a few employers that can easily relocate elsewhere. The city’s economy is currently in need of policies that will drive a faster recovery in employment. The proposed increase in the business tax will only do the opposite, and it will be detrimental to the city’s ability to attract and retain jobs for Oaklanders well into the future.

The True Cost of Wildfires

Wildfires are now an annual concern for many of the state’s residents, particularly in and around the Bay Area. Households in fire-prone areas plan for defensible space and exit strategies in the case of a wildfire, and even those in urban areas prepare for the potential of smoke-laden skies and the health impacts they bring. Now, each wildfire season seems to bring weeks of deadly and dangerous air quality, along with destroyed businesses, homes, neighborhoods, and livelihoods.

Paid Family Leave in California

As the longest standing PFL program in the nation, the California PFL program provides a unique view into the impacts and effectiveness of PFL legislation. As such, there is a growing body of research examining the first two decades of the program, including the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s previous report focused on California’s program. Published prior to the most recent expansion of the program, that report presents data on program usage and impacts of the program on California businesses. The research found that take up rates were growing, the program increased employment among new mothers, and the impact to businesses was positive.

Bay Area Economic Profile 2020

The report includes chapters focused on housing and transportation, venture capital and innovation, income inequality, higher education, regional migration, globalization trends, and labor force participation. The chapters provide data points that offer early insights into how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted different aspects of the region and economy in 2020 to help the region plan for a strong and equitable economic recovery.

Bay Area Homelessness

The Bay Area’s homelessness crisis was created by policy failures at all levels of government; interventions at all levels of government are needed to solve it. Rather than pursuing a shelter mandate, the Bay Area should use existing but unused tools at its disposal to raise $10 billion in new regional revenue to expand its inventory of emergency shelters and permanent housing. The region should pair this investment with new additional state and federal support for affordable housing and homelessness prevention, especially via proven programs like Project Homekey and Section 8. These investments should be paired with state policy reforms to boost housing production and reduce pressure on low-income renters, and to reduce local powers to halt shelter production. Although the Bay Area is a wealthy region, it cannot solve homelessness by itself.

New Transbay Rail Crossing: Making the Case for a Key Megaregional Connection

This report explains interconnected nature of the economy in Northern California Megaregion and examines the economic potential that a more efficient rail transit system could bring to the megaregion. The report examines how unlocking the transbay bottleneck with a new transbay rail crossing is an integral investment in building a connected rail network in the Northern California Megaregion and how that network would transform rail travel across the 21-county megaregion. 

Economic Profile 2020: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Regional Labor Force

This is a chapter of the Economic Profile, the eleventh in a series of Bay Area Economic Profile reports produced since 1997 by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute in partnership with McKinsey & Company. This chapter focuses on COVID-19’s effects on regional labor force participation.
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