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Report: Bay Area Rises to World’s 19th Largest Economy

San Francisco Skyline Painted Ladies (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty
Newport Beach, CA

The Economic Institute reported this month that the Bay Area would be the 19th-largest economy in the world, if it were a country, after growing at the fifth-fastest rate of any nation since 2014.

The Bay Area’s nine counties — including San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo, Solano and Santa Clara — consistently grew faster than the U.S. over the last 20 years. With a GDP of $748 billion at the end of 2017, the Bay Area’s economy now exceeds that of Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

The Bay Area’s rate of growth, at 4.3 percent compounded from 2014 through 2017, was also about two and a half times faster than the 1.7 percent growth of the United States. Due to that persistent growth advantage, the Bay Area’s GDP per capita is almost $80,000, versus less than $55,000 in GDP per capita for the nation as a whole.

Bay Area employment grew slower than the U.S. economy from 2008 to 2011, but has recently ramped up. The fastest Bay Area job growth sectors in the Bay Area were healthcare. up 26 percent; professional and scientific professions, up 25 percent; accommodation and food industries, up 17 percent; and information technologies, up 14 percent.

Bay Area median wages in 2017 were the highest in the nation at $52,100, versus $50,300 for Boston and $39,800 for Los Angeles.

The Economic Institute credits the Bay Area’s highly educated population as a key competitive advantage. With a metropolitan area national high of 46 percent of resident adults over the age of 25 with a college bachelor’s degree, the Bay Area’s average educational achievement towers over the 31 percent average for the U.S.

Although the Bay Area is often referred to as Silicon Valley, the economy is broadly diversified, compared to New York, which is heavily concentrated in financial services and consumer goods. In addition to tech companies, the Bay Area is home to leading companies in financial services, consumer goods, and other sectors.

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