Home Census Pandemic wealth outflow from San Francisco area largest in US, census finds

Pandemic wealth outflow from San Francisco area largest in US, census finds


The San Francisco Bay Area has long been known as the birthplace of Big Tech – and the extreme wealth the industry has created. But during the pandemic, as workers and businesses relocated elsewhere, San Francisco has seen the biggest drop in median household income among major U.S. metropolitan areas, according to Census Bureau data.

The median household income in the metro area that includes San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley fell from $121,551 in 2019 to $116,005 in 2021, according to a census. report this month.

The drop of $5,546, or 4.6%, was the largest dollar and percentage drop among the nation’s 25 most populous metropolitan areas. The second highest was in the New York area, which saw a 4.2% drop — $3,321 — in median household income. The DC region saw a 1.4% decline from $111,974 in 2019 to $110,355 in 2021.

The largest jump in either direction occurred in the vast Phoenix metro area, where median household income jumped 5.2% from $71,954 in 2019 to $75,731 in 2021.

San Francisco’s wealth exodus follows the region’s population loss during the pandemic, which was also the nation’s largest, as remote workers fled to cheaper places like Miami or more remote areas like Teton County, Wyo., and like some big companies, like Oracle and Charles Schwab, have moved their headquarters to Texas. From 2020 to 2021, San Francisco lost 54,813 people, or 6.3% of its population, according to the Census Bureau – the most of the population lost in a major US city during the pandemic.

In the first year of the pandemic, major cities shrank as the south and west saw gains

San Francisco’s population loss comes as many tech companies, including Twitter, Salesforce and Airbnb, have allowed their employees to work remotely full-time. It also comes as the city has struggled with crime, with videos of brazen thefts from pharmacies and luxury stores becoming fodder for right-wing attacks on liberal policies. San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) declared a state of emergency in December in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, long known for rampant drug use and homelessness, saying the situation there -bas “calls an emergency response”. Chesa Boudin, a lightning rod for criticism of far-left crime policies, was recalled in June from his post as San Francisco district attorney.

Breed’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday night on the census data.

Although falling median household income could cause tax revenue problems going forward, San Francisco expects a budget surplus for fiscal years 2022-23 and 2023-24, Breed said in December, after asking departments to “get back to basics,” urging them to focus on pandemic recovery and “restore vibrancy” to San Francisco. In July, Race sign a 2022-2023 budget that “prioritizes economic recovery, public safety, workers and families, homelessness and behavioral health needs.” Included $7.2 million over two years dedicated solely to cleaning up the Tenderloin neighborhood.

Yet as the dust of the pandemic continues to settle across much of the country, downtown San Francisco has been the slowest to recover of any city in the United States. According to a study by the University of California, Berkeley, downtown activity is at 31% of its pre-pandemic levels, the lowest of any large or mid-size US city. This is below the 65% return in downtown DC, the 78% rebound in New York and the 155% boom in Salt Lake City.