Pandemic ‘return to normal’ will exacerbate income and economic disparities Across the Bay Area

Pandemic ‘return to normal’ will exacerbate income and economic disparities Across the Bay Area

This press release was originally posted on ReWork the Bay.

Media Contact: Heather Hansen
Humanity Communications Collective

A new look at data from ReWork the Bay and partners aims to inform policymakers and funders

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Continuing their work developing solutions that improve life for all working people, the regional initiative ReWork the Bay unveiled a new interactive data tool today designed to inform policymakers of work and income disparities across the nine-county Bay Area.

ReWork the Bay’s cross-sector Equity at Work Council partnered with the Bay Area Equity Atlas to tell a more nuanced story about how workers are faring in the Bay Area. The result was The State of Bay Area Workers,  a first-of-its-kind data tool that offers a well-rounded picture of disparities in work and workers for each Bay Area county and the region as a whole. The tool is intended to enable partners and funders to make informed decisions about strategy, policy and practices that lead to needed changes.

“The biggest surprise in this data was how earned income has grown by nearly 70% for very high-wage workers in the last 30 years and shrunk by 9% for very low-wage workers,”  said Rob Hope, Director of ReWork the Bay. “This tells such a clear and compelling story of who has benefited from the wealth generated by the Bay Area’s booming economy–and makes a case for why a return to normal in the Bay Area is the last thing our workers need.”

“The data also shows us how simple indicators like unemployment rates tell a fraction of the story and can often obscure the reality of the majority of working people, especially women and people of color,” Hope added. “Finally, it shows that we cannot ignore the interconnectedness of issues like housing and health care with income and other work-related disparities. To realize the prosperous future that so many of us seek for our region, we have to let go of issue silos and start developing solutions that mirror the complexity of working people’s lives.”

The data tool was created alongside a series of recommendations made last year in the Advancing Workforce Equity in the Bay Area: A Blueprint for Action report, several of which ReWork the Bay and their partners are now implementing. Users of the data tool can examine key indicators across the Bay Area and drill down to each of the nine counties represented.

Key takeaways from the data tool include:

  • Eliminating barriers to employment and closing racial wage gaps could boost the region’s economy by more than 50 percent.
  • The incomes of the highest-earning workers in the area have increased by almost 70 percent since 1980, while earned income has declined by 9 percent over the same period for those in the lowest-paid jobs.
  • In much of the Bay Area, job creation has been concentrated in high- and low-wage jobs over the past few decades, with the impact of the pandemic on job creation still unclear.
  • Only 55 percent of working people in the Bay Area can afford basic family living expenses.

ReWork the Bay is a project hosted by the San Francisco Foundation that brings together leaders in economic justice, education, business and philanthropy to take bold, urgent action to create a prosperous Bay Area for all.