Santa Clara County

The State of Bay Area Workers

How are we doing as a region to ensure everyone can afford to live and thrive in the Bay Area? It takes good jobs, equitable access to those jobs, and affordable supports to make this vision a reality.

Powered by the Bay Area Equity Atlas.

Select the whole Bay Area, or your specific county, for an in-depth look at the state of workers in your area:

  • GOOD

    Jobs

  • EQUITABLE

    Access

  • AFFORDABLE

    Supports

GOOD

Jobs

Barriers to quality, empowered jobs for working people in the Bay Area endanger the future of our economy.

While employment rates fail to show the quality of jobs workers have, the racial disparities in this simple measure can still be an important indicator of workforce equity. In Santa Clara County, about four in five adults are employed, with much smaller racial gaps than the region as a whole.

Universe includes the civilian, non-institutionalized population ages 25 through 64. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

Not all job creation is good job creation.

Prior to Covid-19, job growth in the Bay Area was overly concentrated in low-wage occupations (50 percent growth between 1980 and 2018, compared to 38 percent growth in high-wage jobs). The pandemic erased much of that growth, as many low-wage workers were displaced from jobs deemed “nonessential.”

In Santa Clara County, middle-wage job growth has been very strong (87 percent from 1990-2020), but improving job quality and protections for all workers in all sectors remains essential for building a more equitable and sustainable regional economy.

Universe includes all private-sector jobs covered by state unemployment insurance laws. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

How are workers faring in the Bay Area?

The Bay Area is home to great wealth and opportunity, but neither is shared equally. Why do those inequities exist? And are we making progress in closing those gaps? What does all this mean for Bay Area working families, neighbors, and communities?

We asked our cross-sector Equity at Work Council to partner with the Bay Area Equity Atlas to use data to tell a more nuanced story about how workers are faring in our region. As a result of those efforts, we are excited to present the first ever State of Bay Area Workers tool, offering a well-rounded picture of work and workers in each Bay Area county and the Region as a whole. We hope community leaders, organizers, policymakers, funders and others will use this data to explore, learn, spark conversation, and make informed decisions about strategy, policy and practices that lead to the change we need.

Economic growth should benefit all workers and communities.

As the Bay Area’s economy has grown tremendously over the past few decades, most of the income growth has been captured by people in the highest-paid jobs. Pay for the highest-earning workers in Santa Clara County has increased by 70 percent since 1980, while earned income has declined by 12 percent over the same period for those in the lowest-paid jobs.

In their 2021 Silicon Valley Pain Index, San Jose State found that since the publication of their 2020 report, the top 10 Silicon Valley moguls (all White men) have increased their net wealth to $571 billion—an increase of 130%. Meanwhile African American incomes have decreased by 1% to $40,381 and Latinx incomes have increased by 5.7% to $30,618.

Universe includes civilian noninstitutionalized full-time wage and salary workers ages 25-64. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

Worker power is the only time tested, scalable strategy to create family-sustaining jobs.

Strengthening unions and other forms of organizing that build collective power among working people is essential to improving job quality, and can increase the availability of a skilled workforce. In the Bay Area, Native American and Black workers are most likely to belong to unions. But overall, more than five out of six workers in the region are not protected by union membership.

Check out The Union Effect in California report by UC Berkeley for more on how unions affect the lives of all working people in California.

Universe includes employed wage and salary workers, age 15 or older. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

Eliminating barriers to employment and closing racial wage gaps could boost Santa Clara County’s economy by more than 30 percent.

The Bay Area’s greatest asset is the people who live and work here. When everyone isn’t given a chance at family-sustaining work, it limits our collective economic potential. In 2019 alone, employment barriers and pay inequities cost Santa Clara County’s economy an estimated $104 billion in unrealized GDP.

(GDP) Gross Domestic Product measures the dollar value of all goods and services produced in the region. GDP growth is in real terms (adjusted for inflation). Universe includes all people age 16 or older.  See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

EQUITABLE

Access

Santa Clara County becomes more diverse every year, paving the way for unprecedented creativity, culture and innovation.

About 70 percent of Santa Clara County residents are people of color. This diversity can be a cornerstone of a thriving Bay Area economy, if children, families, and working people of color are allowed to reach their full potential.

Universe includes all people ages 18-64. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. Data are not available for some racial/ethnic groups due to insufficient sample size to produce reliable estimates. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

Quality, affordable higher education should be available to everyone, yet deep racial inequities persist.

About 53 percent of adults in Santa Clara County have at least a bachelor’s degree. This includes almost 69 percent of Asian or Pacific Islander and 61 percent of white adults, but just 17 percent of Latinx and 39 percent of Black adults have a four-year degree.

For more data on post-secondary education in Santa Clara County, check out California Competes’ Postsecondary to Prosperity Dashboard.

Universe includes all people ages 25 through 64. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. Data are not available for some racial/ethnic groups due to insufficient sample size to produce reliable estimates. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

How are workers faring in the Bay Area?

The Bay Area is home to great wealth and opportunity, but neither is shared equally. Why do those inequities exist? And are we making progress in closing those gaps? What does all this mean for Bay Area working families, neighbors, and communities?

We asked our cross-sector Equity at Work Council to partner with the Bay Area Equity Atlas to use data to tell a more nuanced story about how workers are faring in our region. As a result of those efforts, we are excited to present the first ever State of Bay Area Workers tool, offering a well-rounded picture of work and workers in each Bay Area county and the Region as a whole. We hope community leaders, organizers, policymakers, funders and others will use this data to explore, learn, spark conversation, and make informed decisions about strategy, policy and practices that lead to the change we need.

On average, white people are paid far more than people of color in the Bay Area, giving them out-sized economic and political power.

On average, white workers in Santa Clara are paid about 20 percent more than the County’s median wage, while US- born Black workers are paid 22 percent less than the median, and US-born Latinx and Black immigrant workers are paid 35 percent less. At $19/hour, Latinx immigrants are paid the lowest median wages in Santa Clara County — almost 50 percent below the county median.

Universe includes civilian noninstitutional full-time wage and salary workers ages 25-64. Values are in 2019 dollars. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. Data are not available for some racial/ethnic groups due to insufficient sample size to produce reliable estimates. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

How much you get paid determines how much you can afford; just 58 percent of working people in Santa Clara County can afford basic family living expenses.

Only 26 percent of Latinx and 44 percent of Black full-time working people in the county are paid enough to cover the cost of living for a family of four with two full-time working adults, compared to 71 percent of their white counterparts.

Universe includes civilian noninstitutional full-time wage and salary workers ages 25-64. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. Earning enough to meet basic needs is defined by the Family Needs Calculator for a household of 2 adults, one school-age child, and one preschool-age child in the county in which they reside. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

Segregation at work continues to suppress opportunity for many working people of color.

Black and Latinx working people are crowded in occupations that tend to offer lower quality jobs, while white and Asian or Pacific Islander working people are overrepresented in several high paying fields.

In Santa Clara County, Latinx workers make up 27 percent of the overall workforce, but 66 percent of those in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance jobs.

Universe includes civilian noninstitutional workers age 16 or older; universe for total working age population includes all people ages 18-64. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. Data are not available for some racial/ethnic groups due to insufficient sample size to produce reliable estimates. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

AFFORDABLE

Supports

Quality, empowered jobs are critical, and everyone must be able to access them.

Across all racial groups in Santa Clara County, labor force participation is highest for male-identifying people. Among female-identifying people, the gap is largest between Latinx and Asian or Pacific Islander adults (69 percent labor force participation) and Black adults (78 percent). Among male-identifying people, the largest gap is also between Black workers and their Asian or Pacific Islander counterparts, though in the opposite direction (78 and 89 percent, respectively). To ensure all people have access to quality jobs, systemic and structural changes are needed that address bias in hiring and the inequitable availability of child care, transportation, and housing.

Universe includes the civilian, non-institutionalized population ages 25 through 64. The labor force includes those who are employed and those unemployed but actively looking for work. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. Data are not available for some racial/ethnic groups due to insufficient sample size to produce reliable estimates. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

Everyone deserves safe, stable, and affordable housing.

People of color, and especially women of color, shoulder the greatest burden of the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area. Outrageous housing costs and unlivable wages force too many families to choose between paying rent, paying for other essential needs, or moving out of their communities. In Santa Clara County, 62 percent of renter households headed by Latina and Black women are rent-burdened, by far the highest rate among any other racial/ethnic and gender groups.

Universe includes renter-occupied households with cash rent. Rent burden is defined as spending more than 30 percent of income on housing costs. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. Data are not available for some racial/ethnic groups due to insufficient sample size to produce reliable estimates. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

How are workers faring in the Bay Area?

The Bay Area is home to great wealth and opportunity, but neither is shared equally. Why do those inequities exist? And are we making progress in closing those gaps? What does all this mean for Bay Area working families, neighbors, and communities?

We asked our cross-sector Equity at Work Council to partner with the Bay Area Equity Atlas to use data to tell a more nuanced story about how workers are faring in our region. As a result of those efforts, we are excited to present the first ever State of Bay Area Workers tool, offering a well-rounded picture of work and workers in each Bay Area county and the Region as a whole. We hope community leaders, organizers, policymakers, funders and others will use this data to explore, learn, spark conversation, and make informed decisions about strategy, policy and practices that lead to the change we need.

Many Bay Area working people face extremely long and expensive commutes resulting in less take-home pay, higher child care costs, and lower quality of life.

High housing costs in areas where jobs are most concentrated mean that low-income workers who rely on public transit have the longest average commutes in the Bay Area. About 7 percent of Black and Native American workers spend 90 minutes or more traveling to work, one way. All workers deserve access to safe and affordable transportation with a reasonable commute time. Not only are shorter commutes better for workers, they are also better for communities and the environment.

Universe includes all workers ages 16 and older who work outside of home. Data reflect a 2015-2019 average. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

No one in the Bay Area should be without affordable health care.

Safe and healthy working people means healthy families, strong communities and thriving businesses. Yet nearly one in ten Latinx residents in Santa Clara County do not have health insurance — three times the rate of their white counterparts.

Universe includes all people. Latinx include people of Hispanic origin of any race and all other groups exclude people of Hispanic origin. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

Our political leaders must reflect the Bay Area community.

People of color are not equitably represented in high-level elected offices, contributing to political and economic power imbalances. In Santa Clara County, people of color are two thirds of the population but hold just one third of high-level elected offices. Increased economic and political power in communities of color can lead to a Bay Area that works for all of us.

Elected officials include county offices of supervisor or district attorney. See data sources here: https://nationalequityatlas.org/RWB

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