March 21, 2014
If you’ve been paying any attention to local or national news recently, you know we have an inequality problem. In the Bay Area, especially in San Francisco, it has been playing out in the gentrification clashes between locals and tech workers moving into the city. Reading these stories got me wondering whether all this focus on housing is really helping us get to the heart of the inequality problem and the consequent affordability issue in the region. It seems as though we are missing an important piece of the bigger picture. Afterall, affordability is a two sided issue. On one side is certainly the rising cost of basic expenses like housing, on the other is income.
Understanding the income side of issue requires taking a closer look at the jobs picture of the regional economy. What kinds of jobs is this economy creating and what wages do these jobs pay? How many of these jobs pay enough to meet living expenses for the region? What are the proportion of well paying jobs to low paying jobs? To find answers to these questions, we have to start with data about actual jobs in the region. Fortunately a good data set is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles this information in its Occupational Employment Statistics report.
The OES report lists various types of jobs and the estimated number of those jobs for different regions around the country. In the BLS data set, the Bay Area is broken down into multiple metro and non-metro regions. Metro regions combine multiple counties. The San Francisco metro for example, combines data from Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Click and select a metro region from the dropdown below to load the jobs and wage data for that region. The map will highlight the counties included in that metro region.