San Francisco’s labor force one of the slowest to recover among large US metro areas

As of November 2021, San Francisco’s labor force – defined as those employed or looking for work – is still down 78,000, or 3% from pre-pandemic levels. Our region’s recovery remains one of the slowest compared to other large metro areas, despite accelerated gains over the last six months due to lifted restrictions and rising vaccination rates.

At its peak in May 2020, the Bay Area lost 7 percent of its labor force. Women were disproportionately affected, dropping out of the labor force at a faster rate than their male counterparts. A continued lack of child care was a key driver for mothers exiting the labor force — nearly one million mothers left the workforce nationwide, compared to half that number of fathers. Regional labor force recovery and growth in the long-term hinges on key policy reform and legislation, like paid family leave, to support women and other disproportionately affected group’s return to the workforce.