Pando

New study confirms that San Francisco is getting even more white

By Sarah Lacy , written on October 29, 2015

From The White People Desk

If all the “diversity” stats released by large tech companies have killed the idea that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy, a new study of San Francisco’s demographic data nails the coffin shut.

As Silicon Valley has migrated up the Peninsula to center itself in San Francisco, a disturbing demographic trend is happening that is bucking, well, pretty much the demographic trends of the whole country: San Francisco is getting more insanely white.

From an article on KQED’s website:

By 2040, San Francisco County is projected to have a non-Hispanic white majority — jumping from 42 percent in 2013 to 52 percent in 25 years. The percentage of Asians is expected to fall from 34 percent to 28 percent. The Latino population is forecast to shrink from 15 percent to 12 percent. The city’s dwindling number of African-Americans, currently down to 6 percent, should remain the same.

San Francisco is the only one of the five central Bay Area counties where ethnic and racial diversity will actually decrease.

This despite the Bay Area as a whole becoming more diverse, and people of color making up almost all of the population growth from 3.3 million residents to 4.3 million residents since 1980.

Furthermore: The percentage of young people in San Francisco who are white jumped from 22% in 1990 to 33% in 2014. That bucks the overall trend of the Bay Area where the younger population is more diverse than senior citizens.

Less surprisingly, income inequality has become far more pronounced. From the same story:

Income inequality has risen dramatically all over the Bay Area in the last few decades — more so than the United States as a whole — to the point where it’s now 14th among the country’s 150 largest metro regions, up from 45th position in 1979. The wages of the highest-paid workers have increased significantly, while those of the lowest-paid workers have declined, the report says.

In addition, the unemployment rate is much higher for people of color, and more than one in four people without jobs live in neighborhoods where at least 82 percent of residents are nonwhite.

This echoes what Dan Raile wrote recently:

Elsewhere in San Francisco data, the Chronicle reported last week that census data puts the median income of (the shrinking number of) black households in the city at $29.5k. Down 5% from 2011. For white households, $104.3k, a 14% increase. Asian and Latino/Hispanic both saw increases of about 30% since 2007, to $72k and $67k respectively, still notably below the white line. Mayor Ed Lee is running unopposed for reelection, endorsed by the Chronicle itself for his successful "leadership from behind."...

Down the Peninsula there’s a now a Four Seasons in East Palo Alto (the Four Seasons Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto) with rooms starting around $485 dollars a night. The median individual income in East Palo Alto is $18k. And now, CNET reports, the yuppies are moving in there too. Median household income in next door (original) Palo Alto is $122k.

One in every nine Bay Area residents lives below the poverty line, while incomes have doubled for those working in “professional and technical services and finance,” according to the report.

I am pretty fiscally conservative by San Francisco standards. Unlike a lot of our team, I don’t believe that the city should tell you what you can or cannot do with a house you own, whether that’s evict a non-protected tenant so that you can live in your own home or Airbnb it out as much as you want. I think it’s unfortunate that wages have been driven up by high paying tech jobs, but I also think the tech industry giving San Francisco so many high paying tech jobs is a good thing too.

And yet, even I am horrified reading this. I do not want my children growing up in an all white city, any more than I want them growing up as the only kids in school without a plane. Many of us moved here because of the diversity and it’s clear: The tech world’s success is killing it.

I don’t have much more to say about this. What can you say? I mostly wanted to put it on Pando so that our thousands of readers who run and invest in San Francisco startups could see the downside of all the – legitimate– good, jobs, and wealth they are creating.

Startups: We do not live and work in a meritocracy. We knew we were turning San Francisco uncomfortably rich, now we are turning it uncomfortably white. What are we going to do about it? (And don't say build an app...)