Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Income Growth Very Strong Across all Northern California Metro Areas in 2015, But Large Disparities Between the Metros Remain

The Northern California mega-region ranked extremely high in per-capita income growth in 2015 according to the latest data from the BEA.  As shown in the table below, 10 out of the 11 metro areas ranked in the top 10% of the 382 metropolitan areas in the U.S. for growth in per capita income, and even the lowest ranked area, Merced, was in the top 20% of the U.S.

The table shows huge disparity in per capita income across the region, and if you dig deeper in the data you can also see big changes in the composition.  One thing they all have in common is that at least some of the growth is radiating out of the income-generating engine of Silicon Valley.  Between 2013 and 2015, the net change to the "adjustment for residence" (wages earned in one metro area by a resident of another) in Santa Clara County was -$8.1 billion.  The largest share of that commuter income fell into San Francisco and the East Bay, but these commuter gains are also driving a large share of income growth in places like Modesto.    

2015 percap income U.S. rank 2014 % change 2015 % change U.S. rank
U.S. 48,112 -- 4.4 3.7 --
Salinas, CA 49,836 60 3.9 7.3 3
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 44,504 122 3.3 7.0 5
Napa, CA 61,483 13 6.0 6.9 6
Santa Rosa, CA 53,520 33 4.9 6.7 7
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 81,592 3 7.4 6.6 8
Stockton-Lodi, CA 38,769 252 4.2 6.3 13
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 79,206 4 6.1 6.3 15
Yuba City, CA 39,216 241 2.8 6.2 17
Modesto, CA 39,445 237 6.5 5.6 21
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA 49,639 63 4.6 5.2 34
Fresno, CA 38,323 264 4.8 5.1 37
Merced, CA 36,185 317 5.2 4.7 68

Another big difference between the inland areas and Silicon Valley was the large importance of government transfer payments (primarily in the form of health insurance subsidies through Obamacare), as well as government and healthcare employment to income growth in the Central Valley.  Since so much healthcare spending growth is related to government programs, I have combined transfer payments, and earnings from government and healthcare employment in the table below.  As shown in the table below, there is a stark contrast between the metro areas. 

Share of 2013-15 income growth from government transfer payments, and wages from government and healthcare jobs.
Merced 58.2%
Stockton-Lodi 54.3%
Sacramento-Roseville 48.7%
Modesto 41.6%
San Francisco-Oakland 19.0%
San Jose 15.7%
Merced and Stockton have particularly high growth because of expansions at UC-Merced, and the new CA Healthcare Facility for corrections in Stockton.  But the common element of all of these is that at least half of the total is due to Obamacare's expansion of Medi-Cal and private insurance subsidies.

While we don't know when or how much healthcare will change as a result of the election, it is clear that the economic impacts will be felt the most in the Central Valley.