San Francisco

Bay Area Economy Is Now 19th Largest in the World: Study

The Bay Area economy is now among the Top 20 in the world, according to a recently released study.

The Bay Area Council on Tuesday announced the milestone as it unveiled an economic profile that shows tremendous job growth but also a widening income gap.

If the Bay Area were it’s own country, its economy would rank 19th in the world, just behind the Netherlands and ahead of Switzerland and Saudi Arabia, the study shows. At better than 4 percent growth, it’s double the national average.

"We’re coming for the Netherlands," said Micah Weinberg, president of the Bay Area Council's Economic Institute. "Those Europeans they have to get their act together."

Weinberg was stunned by both the numbers and the potential.

"It is staggering," he said. "The thing that’s important to understand is that we’re not done; we don’t have to be done."

The number of patents issued in the Bay Area beats every other region in the country by a wide margin. But the study also includes some disturbing findings about income disparity and housing.

Housing starts are falling way behind job growth in both San Jose and San Francisco.

And while tech workers are moving in from around the world, lower income locals are moving out.

"Based on the Bay Area Council’s own survey, 46 percent of people in the Bay Area are thinking of leaving," council President Jim Wunderman said.

Wunderman warns city’s don’t have the right incentives to support housing development.

Menlo Park Councilwoman Catherine Carlton is urging voters to know their local candidates.

"Is this someone that will be an advocate for intelligent housing, for housing that’s going to benefit the community, or is this someone who is just a knee-jerk reaction against any housing in the area?" Carlton said.

Carlton added that city council members who would like to run for higher office are afraid of upsetting no-growth voters, especially in affluent communities. She said it’s easier to say no than to wrestle with tough decisions about how and where to build.

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