Reports Detail Bay Area Outlook on Economic Strength and STEM Opportunities

June 27, 2015

Several new reports show continued economic strength for the Bay Area. According to a JPMorgan Chase & Co. report released in May, the region has successfully rebounded from the difficult years of the Great Recession. Job growth has soared and is projected to continue to grow by 1.8 percent in the next five years. The labor market for the area has grown by 14 percent since 2009 and with the unemployment rate having dropped to 4.1 percent in San Francisco and 3.9 percent in San Mateo County, people are working again. A growing concern is that while high-skill and low-skill jobs have expanded, the necessary opportunities in the middle are lacking and need further attention.

On the plus side, the Bay Area holds two of the top 10 locations in the United States for job growth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, determined in a NerdWallet analysis. The second highest regional job market in the country for opportunities in STEM-related employment are in Silicon Valley, with 185 of every 1,000 occupations coming from the STEM fields. This Bay Area regional impact continues north of Silicon Valley with the seventh highest regional STEM job market consisting of the counties of San Francisco and San Mateo. Combining these figures for the region, nearly one-third of the jobs available in the Bay Area come from STEM related opportunities. At the same time, the National Science Foundation says there has been a 39 percent increase in freshmen around the country at universities seeking academic study in STEM related disciplines.

While these trends are promising, there are some concerns coming from researchers that the Bay Area and California are not ready for the future developments. The Bay Area Council Economic Institute released a similar report in April entitled the “21st Century Infrastructure: Keeping California Connected, Powered, and Competitive.”

In it they decry the state’s current infrastructure capabilities and outdated regulations which they view are more harming than supportive of future innovations. Recent Bay Area Council polling has also shown the public has some concern that the improvements to the economy over the last few years may have hit a plateau. While pleased with the direction the region has been heading, there is some weakening of confidence that this positive outlook will continue into the future. Crises with the drought, housing, transportation and the like are of tremendous concern and need to be addressed in order to help stabilize public opinion for a continued strengthening of the economy.