Jobs by Industry

Which industries are creating or losing jobs?

Jobs by Industry

Jobs by industry refers to both the change in employment levels by industrial sector and the mix of jobs among sectors. This measure reflects the industry trends that affect our region’s workers.

The Bay Area employment base is remarkably diverse, with nearly 3.7 million individuals working for thousands of employers in nearly a dozen primary industrial sectors. When looking at the number of workers in a specific industry sector, we can assess the relative importance of that industry to our region’s overall economy and determine if an industry’s prominence is growing or declining over time.

Regional Performance
The Bay Area’s job growth over the past quarter-century can be attributed to job creation in the service sector.

Since 2010, our region has recovered hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. With 3.7 million jobs in 2015, the total number of jobs in Bay Area exceeded the previous peak set in 2000. Professional and business services, which includes professions like administrative services and management, legal services, scientific research, and computer systems and design, continue to be the largest industry in our region, but other service sector jobs have grown significantly since 1990. This shift towards the service sector reflects an increased demand for education, healthcare, hospitality and information services. The educational and health services sector has been the region’s fastest growing industry since 1990.

The finance sector has long been one of the pillars of the regional economy, especially in San Francisco. The sector’s share of overall regional jobs, however, has declined since 1990. This is perhaps most visible in San Francisco’s Financial District, where technology firms are becoming increasingly common in buildings formerly occupied by the financial services companies. Despite San Francisco’s history as a global financial center and its prominence as a center of venture capital, the Bay Area does not have a higher share of financial services jobs than the country as a whole. Instead, the professional and business services sector continues to rise in prominence, paralleling growth in high-tech industries.

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Historical Trend for Jobs by Industry

Regional Distribution
Our region’s recent economic recovery has been powered by growth in the technology and service sectors.

Since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, job growth has been strongest in industries related to technology development and use, from information to professional and business services. This has been accompanied by similarly strong growth in service sectors like education, healthcare, and leisure and hospitality. At the same time, manufacturing has continued to decline, with job levels in 2015 at 28 percent below their 1990 levels. Notably, manufacturing jobs remain at recession-era levels – reflecting a broader trend for manufacturing workers across the country.

The information sector, which includes jobs in data processing and hosting, telecommunications, internet publishing and web search, has grown an astonishing 20 percent in the past two years. The construction sector, which experienced the most severe job loss during the recession, has seen employment grow by over 35 percent since 2010 as new building and infrastructure projects have picked up steam.

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Historical Trend for Job Growth by Industry

Local Focus
Job growth in the professional and business services sector, which is a fundamental pillar of our region’s economy, has been strongest along the Peninsula.

Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties have experienced some of the greatest economic benefits from job growth in the professional and business services sector. These three counties have experienced double-digit job growth rates in this sector over the past two decades, building upon their existing regional specialization in the industry. While the East Bay has also benefitted from service-sector job growth, its most dominant industries are related to government and logistics – two sectors that have experienced relatively stagnant job growth over the same time period.

Agriculture remains an important sector in our region, particularly in Sonoma and Napa counties. These two counties, alongside nearby Solano County, account for nearly two-thirds of all farm jobs in the region. While agriculture has declined overall as the region has become more urbanized, these counties have seen significant job growth in the industry.

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Historical Trend for Population - Bay Area

National Context
The Bay Area has the highest share of information and manufacturing jobs among major metro areas nationwide.

It is no surprise that the Bay Area, with its agglomeration of web-related information technology companies, tops the list of metro areas for the largest share of regional jobs in the information sector. New York, home to major media companies, and Los Angeles, home to the film industry, also have relatively large information sectors. The Bay Area also has the second largest share of manufacturing jobs nationwide despite the long-term decline in the region’s high-tech manufacturing since the dot-com bust. This reflects even more severe manufacturing declines in metro areas such as Chicago and Los Angeles, which have historically been hubs for industrial activity, but also reflects some local expansion in specialty products such as food and beverages.

While the Bay Area has a strong concentration of information jobs, other metro areas have their own industry specialization. For example, Washington, D.C., remains highly dependent on government-related industries as reflected in its job share. The data also reflect Houston’s focus on resource extraction and both Miami and Atlanta’s emphasis on logistics, even as their economies have become more diverse over time.

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Metro Comparison for 2017 Jobs by Industry


California Employment Development Department: Current Employment Statistics (1990-2015)

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Current Employment Statistics (2015)

Image: Flickr (Creative Commons license), Photographer: Maurizio Pesce

Methodology Notes: 

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) provides estimates of employment by place of work and by industry. Industries are classified by their North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. Vital Signs aggregates employment into 11 industry sectors: Farm, Mining, Logging and Construction, Manufacturing, Trade, Transportation and Utilities, Information, Financial Activities, Professional and Business Services, Educational and Health Services, Leisure and Hospitality, Government, and Other. EDD counts all public-sector jobs under Government, including public transportation, public schools, and public hospitals. The Other category includes service jobs such as auto repair and hair salons and organizations such as churches and social advocacy groups. Employment in the technology sector are classified under three categories: Professional and Business Services, Information, and Manufacturing. The latter category includes electronic and computer manufacturing. For further details of typical firms found in each sector, refer to the 2012 NAICS Manual ( The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides industry estimates for non-Bay Area metro areas. Their main industry employment estimates, the Current Employment Survey and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, do not provide annual estimates of farm employment. To be consistent, the metro comparison evaluates nonfarm employment for all metro areas, including the Bay Area. Industry shares are thus slightly different for the Bay Area between the historical trend and metro comparison sections. The location quotient (LQ) is used to evaluate level of concentration or clustering of an industry within the Bay Area and within each county of the region. A location quotient greater than 1 means there is a strong concentration for of jobs in an industry sector. For the Bay Area, the LQ is calculated as the share of the region’s employment in a particular sector divided by the share of the nation’s employment in that same sector. Because BLS does not provide national farm estimates, note that there is no LQ for regional farm employment. For each county, the LQ is calculated as the share of the county’s employment in a particular sector divided by the share of the region’s employment in that same sector.