Where do we work?
Jobs refers to the number of employees in a given area by place of work. These estimates do not include self-employed and private household employees.

If the Bay Area were a nation, its economy would rank among the top 25 in the world. Measured by number of jobs, our region’s economy is the fourth-largest among metropolitan areas in the United States – exactly in line with our rank by population. The Bay Area’s 3.7 million workers power an economy notable for its diversity, innovation and resilience, and these factors have been instrumental in helping the region to rebound from the Great Recession.

Regional Performance
Employment is at an all-time record high.

The Bay Area economy has experienced and survived two bubbles in the 21st century – the dot-com technology bubble of the early 2000s and the more recent, real estate-based financial crisis of 2008. Since the end of the Great Recession, the region has experienced a robust recovery. While jobs have grown by more than 3 percent each of the past four years, 2015 was the first time in 15 years that jobs exceeded the year 2000 peak. Only time will tell whether current employment levels – totaling 3.7 million jobs in the Bay Area – are a fleeting bubble or a new normal.

Similar to the regional trend, the City and County of San Francisco has more jobs than ever before. After the county lost 65,000 jobs between 2000 and 2010, it has recovered from that loss by adding 125,000 jobs in the six years since. In addition, San Francisco’s share of Bay Area jobs has increased, now accounting for 18 percent of our region’s total. Together with Santa Clara County, these two counties account for nearly half the region’s employment – and more than 54 percent of regional job growth since 2010. In contrast, recent job growth in the North Bay counties of Solano and Marin – as well as Contra Costa County – has been significantly less robust.

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Historical Trend for Jobs

Local Focus
Jobs are clustered around San Francisco Bay, particularly in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

The geography of job location comes into focus by examining the distribution of employment within 20 sub-county areas. The region’s three largest job centers continue to be San Francisco, North Santa Clara County and San Jose – which in total have 1.8 million jobs, nearly half of all regional employment. Alongside Peninsula communities in Central and South San Mateo County, these sub-county areas have seen the most robust job growth rates since 2010. Booming job markets in these sub-county areas have contributed to a growing regional jobs-housing imbalance, however.

Established communities in the East Bay have been less fortunate in terms of job creation. North Alameda County – the region’s fourth-largest job center and which includes downtown Oakland and downtown Berkeley – has only seen a 5 percent growth in jobs since 2010. On the other side of the hills, communities in East Alameda County saw significant job losses during the Great Recession, but these cities have achieved a robust recovery as demonstrated by a 17 percent job growth rate since 2010. The diverse geography of job growth across the Bay Area continues to transform the region’s housing and transportation patterns, with East Bay residents increasingly commuting to faster-growing job centers in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

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Jobs Estimates for Sub-County Areas

Select sub-county areas on the map to see detailed historical job numbers.
There were approximately
jobs in
in 2018.
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National Context
Bay Area employment is growing faster than any other major metro area – even faster than Houston and Dallas.

Over the past 25 years, Houston and Dallas have seen the strongest job growth amongst major metro areas. But in the last five years, that trend has changed, with the Bay Area boasting the fastest job growth in the United States – even faster than those fast-growing Texas metros. This is due in part to recent slowdowns in the energy industries even as the tech sector continues to reach new highs.

In contrast to the faster-growing regions of the South and West, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington continue to experience below-average job growth compared to the other major metro areas. While this phenomenon is not new for three of those metros, the nation’s capital has joined this list in the last decade as a result of reduced federal spending, which has presumably translated into fewer federal employees and contractors.

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Metro Comparison for Percent Change in Jobs


California Employment Development Department: Current Employment Statistics

U.S. Census Bureau: LODES Data

Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Program (2014)

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Current Employment Statistics

Table D-3: Employees on nonfarm payrolls (1990-2015)

Image: Flickr (Creative Commons license)

Methodology Notes: 

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) provides estimates of employment, by place of employment, for California counties. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides estimates of employment for metropolitan areas outside of the Bay Area. Annual employment data are derived from non-seasonally adjusted monthly estimates and thus reflect “annual average employment.” Employment estimates include part-time jobs. If an individual holds two wage and salaried jobs, the estimate will include both jobs. Employment estimates exclude business owners, self-employed people, unpaid workers, and private household workers. Employment estimates outside of the Bay Area do not include farm employment. For the metropolitan area comparison, farm employment was removed from Bay Area employment totals. Both EDD and BLS data report only wage and salary jobs, not the self-employed. For measuring jobs below the county level, Vital Signs assigns collections of incorporated cities and towns to sub-county areas. For example, the cities of East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Redwood City and Woodside are considered South San Mateo County. Because Bay Area counties differ in footprint, the number of sub-counties within each county also vary. For example, San Francisco, Marin, and Napa counties are each treated as a single area while Santa Clara County has four sub-county areas. These sub-county areas differ from sub-regional study areas (SSAs) in Projections 2013 from the Association of Bay Area Governments in several important ways: (1) SSAs typically include one city and expand the boundaries of the city to include adjacent, unincorporated areas; and (2) SSAs disaggregate unincorporated areas of Sonoma County into nine sub-areas. Estimates for sub-county areas are the sums of city-level estimates from Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data. To correct for limitations in LEHD estimates, the 2014 estimates were increased to 2015 values preserving the spatial distribution of jobs calculated from LEHD. County employment data from EDD was used to adjust the LEHD estimates.

The following incorporated cities and towns are included in each sub-county area:

North Alameda County – Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont

East Alameda County – Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton

South Alameda County – Fremont, Hayward, Newark, San Leandro, Union City

Central Contra Costa County – Clayton, Concord, Danville, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, San Ramon, Walnut Creek

East Contra Costa County – Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Pittsburg West

Contra Costa County – El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo

Marin – all incorporated cities and towns

Napa – all incorporated cities and towns

San Francisco – San Francisco

North San Mateo – Brisbane, Colma, Daly City, Millbrae, Pacifica, San Bruno, South San Francisco

Central San Mateo – Belmont, Burlingame, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, San Carlos, San Mateo

South San Mateo – East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Redwood City, Woodside

North Santa Clara – Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale

San Jose – San Jose

Southwest Santa Clara – Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga

South Santa Clara – Gilroy, Morgan Hill

East Solano – Dixon, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Suisun City, Vacaville

South Solano – Benicia, Vallejo

North Sonoma – Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Windsor

South Sonoma – Cotati, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma