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Data Releases

San Francisco again outpaces the field

San Francisco was the top performing large county economy for the second quarter in a row in 2019Q3, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics published today.

Year-over-year employment growth in San Francisco in September was 3.5%, up slightly from 3.4% in June. Davidson County (Nashville) was second again, at 3.4%. Rounding out the top five were Wake (Raleigh) at 3.3%, Maricopa (Phoenix) at 3.2%, and King (Seattle) and Travis (Austin) tied at 3.1%. Overall performance among large counties of 500,000 or more jobs was unchanged from 2019Q2, but there were fewer counties with net year-over-year losses in 2019Q3. We should not make too much of quarterly movements given the likelihood of BLS revisions to the data when the full year is available. That said, it appears job growth accelerated in Raleigh and Dallas in 2019Q3 and slowed in Las Vegas and Atlanta.

San Francisco retained its pole position in wage growth among large counties, as well, but it didn’t quite reach the milestone I discussed in November with the 2019Q2 release. The average weekly wage in San Francisco in 2019Q3 was $2,273, up 7.6% on a year-over-year basis, not adjusted for inflation. The average weekly wage in San Francisco was 93% of the average weekly wage in Santa Clara County, which is the narrowest gap for Q3 dating back to at least 2001 (it was 78% as recently as 2011). So we’re not there yet, but the day is coming soon.

Rounding out the top five for wage growth were Hamilton County (Cincinnati) at 6.4%, Wake (5.3%), Denver (5.1%), and Dallas and Tarrant (Fort Worth) tied at 4.9%. Travis (Austin) was next at 4.8%. Davidson (Nashville) was down the list a bit at a very healthy 4.1%.

Interesting side note for the Silicon Valley watchers to keep an eye on: The only large county with a net decline in the average weekly wage in 2019Q3 on a year-over-year basis was Santa Clara (-0.3%). That is the second quarter in a row finishing in the bottom two of the ranking.

Again, not to make too much of it until the revision is out, but notable that the average weekly wage was growing faster in areas of the country like Cleveland and Detroit than it was in Silicon Valley last year.

Next update with 2019Q4 will be on May 20.