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News Release

Interactive Website Takes Pulse of the San Francisco Bay Area Economy

Phase 3 of Vital Signs Initiative Released

OAKLAND, CA — The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) this week unveiled a new interactive, web-based lens for viewing the effects of the Bay Area’s booming economy on jobs, home prices, rents, housing affordability and other aspects of the nine-county region as part of the ongoing Vital Signs performance monitoring initiative. The collection of economic data — the latest chapter in a growing library of key indicators taking the pulse of the Bay Area — can be found at:

MTC launched the Vital Signs website ( in January 2015 with a “Transportation” data module, releasing a “Land and People” section in March 2015. The newly introduced “Economy” section of Vital Signs covers 11 indicators, with 35 interactive maps and graphs that allow users to zoom in on data for their own county, city or neighborhood, as well as get the big picture by comparing the region’s stats with trends in other areas of the country.

Users also can go back and forth in time to compare today’s job figures, housing prices and the like with conditions several decades in the past. These interactive elements enable users to do everything from generating localized home price “heat maps” to charting job growth by industry, customized to a particular county.

“While not all the data is new per se, the Vital Signs site brings all the pieces together and puts them into one place to paint a complete picture of the state of our region,” Vital Signs Project Manager Dave Vautin said. In addition to the new economic indicators, Vital Signs has data on commute patterns, commute times, congestion levels and daily miles traveled; transit ridership; pavement, bridge and transit asset condition; population, job and housing trends; and more — now and in the past.

Among the key findings:

  • The Bay Area has emerged from the Great Recession stronger than almost any other major metro area in the country, with the education, healthcare, professional and business services, and information sectors powering job growth. Meanwhile, Bay Area jobs in manufacturing declined by 32 percent between 1990 and 2013.
  • The Bay Area’s economy produced more output per capita ($84,220) than any other major metro area in the U.S. in 2013, and the Bay Area economy grew faster than any other major metro area over the last decade.
  • The region’s prosperity has not been evenly distributed, with many residents confronting stagnant incomes, increasing poverty and unaffordable housing, particularly in the North Bay.
  • One quarter of the region’s population lives in households with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line, and the region is seeing a trend toward the suburbanization of poverty.
  • From 2010 to 2014, the region’s unemployment decreased by nearly 5 percentage points, a reduction that tops all of the other metro areas in the U.S. except Miami. Yet, even five years into our economic recovery, unemployment in the Bay Area — measured at 5.6 percent in 2014 — is higher than pre-recession levels. At the county level, Solano County had the highest unemployment rate in 2013, at 8.4 percent.
  • The median Bay Area household earned $80,000 in 2013, while the median Bay Area worker earned $46,700 in 2013. Of the five wealthiest cities in the region in terms of household income levels, four are located in Silicon Valley.
  • Bay Area housing prices are the most expensive in the nation, with the median home price rising by 50 percent over the past three years, to $615,000 in 2014. The median home price in San Francisco is nearly $1 million, and median home prices in some Silicon Valley communities easily exceed $1 million.
  • The Bay Area has been the most expensive major metro area in the U.S. for renters since 1970, and rents here have grown faster than in any other metro area. The median monthly rent payment in the Bay Area was $1,376 in 2013, a figure that is moderated to some degree by rent control in some otherwise high-rent areas. At the same time, 11 Bay Area cities had median rent payments greater than $2,000 a month in 2013.
  • The region is the fourth worst area in the nation in terms of housing affordability, with 42 percent of Bay Area renters spending more than 35 percent of their incomes on housing in 2013, and a quarter of Bay Area homeowners spending more than 35 percent of their incomes on housing in 2013. The housing affordability crunch affects residents at the lower incomes disproportionately, with the vast majority of households with annual incomes below $50,000 experiencing an excessive housing cost burden.

Other economic indicators in this Vital Signs release measure the region’s airport and seaport activity. Still ahead is the fourth and final phase of Vital Signs, which will focus on the Bay Area’s environmental indicators.

Vital Signs was developed in cooperation with the Association of Bay Area Governments. MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.


Brenda Kahn (415) 778-6773 desk, (510) 207-4294 cell

Dave Vautin (510) 817-5709