Bay Area economic confidence slips, survey says
By Trisha Thadani
San Francisco Chronicle
1 April 2017
Photo courtesy SF Chronicle
The frustrations of living in the Bay Area have become so pronounced that confidence in the economy has sunk to its lowest level in four years, according to a survey released Saturday by the Bay Area Council.
Housing and traffic concerns have usually topped the list, but they have intensified this year. In 2014, 53 percent of respondents said they felt the economy was doing better than it was in the previous six months. According to the survey, only 31 percent of respondents feel that way today.
The Bay Area has had a strong run since the recession. San Francisco’s unemployment rate is astonishingly low, at 3 percent.
But for the first time in four years, the Bay Area has failed to create more jobs than it lost, according to analysis of state jobs data by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. The analysis projects that the region will create 86,000 jobs this year — a significant decline from 142,000 in 2016.
The Bay Area’s population growth is also starting to slow, according to census data released last month, with more people leaving than arriving in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin counties.
Professor of City & Regional Planning Karen Chapple said she is not surprised that economic confidence has slipped. “If you think about the indicators that we’ve seen in the last few months, it’s not really that surprising,” she said. “We’re due for a downturn. ... It’s not really a surprise that our expectations would be changing and our confidence would be changing. There’s been talk about when is the bubble going to pop.”
Chapple feels the Bay Area has stronger fundamentals than it did during the first dot-com bubble. “It’s not like Google and Facebook are going away — there is a much more solid base,” she said. “We’re not likely going to see a loss of the number of tech jobs like we did in 2000. Instead, it’ll be more of a correction.”