The Bay Area is known for its bustling life & top dollar tech sector jobs. However the high cost-of-living is putting pressure on wages. According to the Council for Community and Economic Research, the total cost of living in San Francisco is 62.6% higher than the national average.
* According to a recent study by job search site Indeed.com, an app developer in San Francisco could be earning an average annual salary of $108,000. However with a median house rent of $3,357 in San Francisco, the developer would be spending a whopping 37% of his income on housing.
* Compare these same figures with a city like Austin & the result is that even with a lesser salary, only 23% of the income would need to be set aside for housing.
As of May 2016, Software Developers in San Jose-Santa Clara-Sunnyvale earned an average hourly wage of $63.95 vs a national average of $50.14*. (Source: U.S. BLS, Occupational Employment Stattistics, May 2016.)
In March 2017, the unemployment rate in San Jose-Santa Clara-Sunnyvale was 3.5%. It spiked to 3.9% in August.
Despite high wages average annual spending for Bay Area residents continues to rise. Let’s take a look at spending across some key parameters.
Housing costs continue to be a dominant force by making up for 33.8% of the Western region’s annual expenditure in 2015*. (Source: U.S. BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey)
The cost of renting a primary residence in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Area rose by 5.2% between August 2016 & June 2017. Housing costs in general rose by 5.6% in June 2017 from August last year. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Electricity rates in California are among the highest in the U.S. According to the latest Consumer Price data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Electricity costs for the San Francisco, San Jose-Oakland belt increased by 5.2% in August compared to the same period last year.
* As per data available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, average electricity price for end use consumers in California came in at 18.85 (Cents per Kilowatt-hour) in June.
* In comparison, consumers in Texas only paid 11.04 (Cents per Kilowatt-hour) in June.
A February 2017 LA Times investigative report states that Californians are paying a higher premium for their electricity from the past few years with close to a staggering 50% difference between the state & rest of the country. The charges are expected to rise further as power utilities look to recover costs for building new plants & maintenance costs according to the report.
Gas prices in California are the highest in America. According to gasbuddy.com it costs $3.079 per gallon of gas in California. California charges a 2.25% sales tax on gasoline; one of the six states to levy such a fee. The state also levies two slabs of excise tax on gasoline. Excise tax is adjusted based on gas consumption projections & prices.
There is more pain in the pipeline for commuters in California. Come November, gas taxes will rise by 12 cents per gallon & a 19.5 cents per gallon hike by 2020. The hikes are part of a plan to raise funds for fixing the dismal condition of the state’s highways.
According to the American Community Survey 2011-2015, an estimated 76% of Santa Clara County, California workers drove to work alone. The average commute time to work was 26 minutes according to the survey.
Food costs in the Bay Area are also a major pressure point for cost-of-living. According to a report by The Council for Community and Economic Research, the overall food costs in San Francisco is 23% higher than the national average. According to research website numbeo.com a pound of cheese costs a whopping 71% higher in the Bay Area compared to the national average. A gallon of milk in San Francisco costs $4.85 vs the national average of $3.82.
The high cost-of-living is driving people in the Bay Area to look for better & cheaper opportunities elsewhere in places like Texas, Oregon & Washington. According to the LinkedIn Workforce Report for the month of June, the number of workers arriving in the Bay Area decreased by 17% from February.
According to realty major Redfin’s latest migration report, The Bay Area ranked highest for net outflow for the second quarter in a row, which means the number of people in the Bay Area searching for homes in another metro was greater than the number of people in other metros searching for homes in the Bay Area.
Jobs continue to be added at a steady pace in the Bay Area. However finding an affordable living option & managing day-to-day expenses continues to be a challenge.