What's in store for San Francisco Bay Area's economy post-pandemic?

Recovery will take time but economists insist the worse is over.

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
What's in store for SF Bay Area's economy post-pandemic?
What's in store for San Francisco Bay Area's economy post-pandemic? Recovery will be slow, but economists say they're optimistic.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- When it comes to the nation's economic recovery from the pandemic, we know the Bay Area has not fared well. When we study the overall economic outlook, one thing is certain: the pandemic brought permanent changes and there is no going back.

Here's what we know - the slow recovery is a surprise to no one.

The San Francisco metro area which includes the East Bay, Peninsula and some of the North Bay, ranked 24th out of 25 similar regions.

"I think most people were unsurprised, if anything maybe surprised that they didn't rank last, so maybe that's a little bright spot," expressed Abby Raisz, research manager for the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

MORE: SF's Financial District slowest in US to recover in post-pandemic phase, study shows

Only the Baltimore region fared worse.

Five times as many people in the entire Bay Area, worked from home from 2019 to 2021. As a result, San Francisco alone has seen more than a 24% increase in office vacancy.

"Remote work it will stay with us, but we don't necessarily think we should be talking about 25% vacancy rates for the next decade," anticipated Jeff Bellisario, executive director of the Bay Area Council.

The city also saw $96 million less in sales tax revenue in 2021 versus 2019.

MORE: The haves and have-nots, the stark disparity of inflation in the Bay Area

"We took a gamble on investing so much in the tech industry and that industry, when a shift to remote occurs once in a life-time pandemic, it's really hard to bounce back form that," added Raisz.

From 2019 to 2021, the number of people who left the Bay Area for another state increased by 33%.

It's no secret that much of the Bay Area's recovery will rely on the rebirth of downtown San Francisco.

The first strategy, make it clean and safe and they will come.

VIDEO: SF's 'dirty streets' hurting international tourism as conventions struggle to come back

San Francisco used to be one of the most iconic tourism hot spots in the world, but today the city is struggling to keep international tourism alive.

The second strategy is to diversify.

"Resilient economies are diverse and there is an opportunity to retain tech, keep tech here and invite in new industries and businesses," explained Katherine Daniel, the director of Economic Recovery Initiatives for the city of San Francisco.

There are proposals to offer tax incentives.

The third strategy is to find new uses for those old offices spaces that should include housing.

Economists are optimistic that the worst is behind us and that Bay Area is still the best investment with tech still leading the way in our recovery.

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