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Thursday, July 18, 2013

The largest employers in SF: Not tech

The Biz Times just came out with its list of the 100 biggest employers in the Bay Area, and it's no surprise -- except to people who think that the only area of job growth or major employment in the region is in tech. Yes, Twitter makes the list -- as number 98. But six of the top 10 are public-sector agencies, and there are only three tech firms -- Genentech, Oracle, and VMWare -- in the top 20. None of them are in San Francisco.

The number one employer, with 30,000 jobs, is Kaiser Permanente (health care). CPMC, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, and John Muir Health are all in the top 20. Dignity Health is number 24.

There's finance (Wells Fargo at number 7) food (Safeway at 5) and travel (United Airlines at 11).

But of the top 40, more than half are either public-sector or health care.

That's changed somewhat in the past 20 years; at one point, finance and corporate HQ offices were huge employers in SF, but Bank of America is now a branch office, Crocker Bank is gone, and Wells is smaller. Chevron has moved to San Ramon. The days when one big company had 20,000 workers in the city are long over.

San Francisco's employment base is now much more in small outfits -- and in government and health care. 

Those aren't bad employment sectors; they tend to be more stable than finance, insurance, real-estate and even tech. But they also employ a lot of people who make middle-class wages and don't earn enough to buy (or even rent) median homes. That's a way bigger problem than the need to build housing for the wealthier people in the smaller tech sector.

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