A cavalcade of new tech workers — 13,000 to be exact — is being credited for an accelerating economic boom in San Francisco.
The number of tech jobs has increased by almost 42 percent in just the first half of 2012, from 31,000 to 44,000 — a surge being driven by 150 new technology firms in The City, according to data released last week by the civically plugged-in San Francisco Center for Economic Development.
Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting unveiled the data Friday at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, an area that exemplifies The City’s resulting spike in property values, along with the South Beach and South of Market neighborhoods. The City’s former waterfront industrial hub and warehouse sector has seen a total property value boost totaling $1.2 billion more than last year, from $27.2 billion to $28.4 billion, according to Ting’s figures.
“This is an urban model,” Ting said. “Entrepreneurs are coming to San Francisco instead of going to Silicon Valley.”
The think tank also released nationwide figures showing that the Bay Area continues to lead the way in high-tech venture capital investment, with a total of $11.8 billion going toward 430 companies in 2011. The next largest market for tech investment was Boston, with $2.8 billion put behind 285 companies, according to the figures.
Ting said the influx is causing property values to explode in commercial real estate and in upper-crust neighborhoods like Pacific Heights. He said recently built condominium stock is the only category still experiencing sluggishness as new residents shy away from “less unique” housing or opt to rent instead.
Ting lauded San Francisco’s outreach to Chinese firms and its long-standing tax incentives for clean-tech companies, which he credited for increasing solar power companies in The City from just two to 30 in a four-year period “when the economy was tanking.”
Jim Ross, a San Francisco political consultant and longtime observer of local economic trends, finds a common historic theme in the relationship between first dot-com boom in the late ’90s and the current uptick.
“San Francisco has always been a boomtown — it was built on the Gold Rush, but then the silver boom is what grew it,” Ross said. “We’re definitely in a boom period, so now the question is how long it will sustain.”
Ross said San Francisco’s current upswing is marked by less extravagance, perhaps less naivete, than its late-’90s counterpart. The biggest difference, he said, is that this time, the growth is centered in The City.
“The downside to that is, if there is a bust, it’s going to impact The City much more directly,” Ross said.
Editor's note: This story was corrected on August 28, 2012
The August 26 San Francisco Examiner story headlined “Tech jobs in SF triple in first half of 2012” was based on faulty data supplied in a press release by the office of Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting. The July figures from the San Francisco Center for Economic Development actually point to a one-third increase in The City’s tech jobs in 2012 — from 31,000 to 44,000 — not an increase of 13,000 to 44,000 as the press release said.