Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Recession Watch

Friday, March 29, 2013

California's Economic Recovery Has Been a Tale of Two States

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Tough times continue.
  • Tough times continue.

When President Obama was elected in November 2008, the national unemployment rate was at 6.5 percent, and quickly rising. The Great Recession was picking up speed. By the inauguration, the unemployment rate had reached 8.5 percent. It eventually peaked a year later, in January 2010, at 10.6 percent. And it's been a slow trudge back ever since.

San Francisco, of course, weathered the maelstrom better than most cities. The city didn't fall as far, and has been climbing back up more quickly-- from housing market to job growth.

The most recent labor data show that the upward trend continues for the Bay Area, particularly from San Mateo up through Marin. But while SF has helped solidify the economies of its neighbors, the region's success has only underscored California's economic stratification.

San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties were the only ones in the state with an unemployment rate below 6.5 percent in February (not seasonally adjusted), according to preliminary data released by the state's Employment Development Department. Meanwhile, 34 of the state's 58 counties had a rate above 10.6 percent.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Friday, September 21, 2012

California: Privately Rich in Big Cities, Publicly Broke

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 12:10 PM

There's plenty of money in the state. Just not in the public sector.
  • There's plenty of money in the state. Just not in the public sector.

Welcome to the hub of American prosperity. Yesterday, the Census Bureau released the results from the 2011 American Community Survey, and in the competition for Wealthiest City in America, the Bay Area snagged gold and silver.

San Jose took the top spot, with a median income of $76,593, and San Francisco came in second at $69,894.

Of course, people who consume newspaper headlines may notice a strange contradiction here. There was another report released on Thursday. As the New York Times wrote, that one, from the State Budget Crisis Task Force, showed that California's public debt sitting somewhere between $167 billion and $335 billion, ridiculously higher than the $28 billion Gov. Jerry Brown estimated when he took office last year.

There may not be a better example of the disconnect between private sector success and public sector struggles than the Golden State.

See also: Bay Area Poverty Is Growing Faster in Suburbia Than in Urban Areas

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Uncertainty Has Increased Unemployment Rate by up to 2 Percent, Fed Study Says

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Tough times.
  • Tough times.

"Uncertainty!" Scottish dramatist David Mallet wrote. "Fell demon of our fears! The human soul that can support despair, supports not thee."

The human soul and the economy have that in common. By now, it's been ingrained in our consciousness by news stories and stump speeches: Uncertainty is holding back America's economic recovery.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy SF ... San Francisco-Style

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 8:10 AM

In New York City, they Occupy Wall Street movement has drawn thousands of people to the lower Manhattan area to protest "corporate greed." On one occasion, more than 700 protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, sparking what some are calling a new era of dissenters. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, where the make-banks-pay movement has spread, things have been a little more, well, zen.

In case you don't work anywhere near the Financial District and haven't had the chance to see this group in action, here is what an average day for OccupySF protesters looks like:

When's lunch? - ALAN SCHERSTUHL
  • Alan Scherstuhl
  • When's lunch?

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, September 30, 2011

Has Bank of America Been Hacked over New Debit Card Fee?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 12:55 PM

  • MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr
  • Breaking the bank

In yet another possible sign that hacking is the most popular pastime among antisocial American youth since Magic: The Gathering, the Bank of America website is experiencing technical difficulties that some are speculating could be part of a reprisal for its announcement of a new fee on debit-card users.

B of A announced the $5 monthly fee for customers who make debit-card purchases yesterday, prompting a storm of criticism for what Gawker memorably dubbed a "negative interest rate."

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, April 29, 2011

Economist Writer Talks about Why California Won't Split Up

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 3:56 PM


For those who missed our blog post on it last week, we'll say it again: The Economist correspondent Andreas Kluth's special report on dysfunction in California's government is worth a read. Earlier this week, we attended Kluth's talk at the World Affairs Council on Sutter Street, where he offered a few insights beyond what was in his story.

The premise of that story, more or less, was that direct democracy has ruined us. This form of government worked (sort of) for the ancient Athenians, but only because their popular assembly was so small that it met, as Kluth noted Wednesday night, on a single rock. The sort of representative democracy, or republic, envisioned by America's founding fathers has been confounded in California by a vigorous process for legislation through the ballot box -- essentially a fourth, unintended branch of government that has hampered elected lawmakers' ability to meet challenges, particularly in the realm of state finances.

Kluth was pressed repeatedly during the Q&A period of his chat about concrete solutions he would propose for California. He had a few reflections on this subject:

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pension Crisis Is Real, as Fates of Other Cities Show

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 7:15 AM

Now featuring smaller pensions for cops
  • Now featuring smaller pensions for cops

With the interminable debate we've witnessed over pension reform during the last year, it's sometimes easy to forget that this isn't just another political shooting match over a characteristically trivial San Franciscan topic. (Dog parks, anyone?) Yet an article published this week in the New York Times shows the pension wagon really can go hurtling off the cliff -- and has, in fact, done so in other municipalities.

As the Times reports, a growing number of cities are slashing pensions, cutting jobs, and shrinking government services. In some cases, pension funds can go bust altogether. The story cites the cautionary tale of Pritchard, Ala., which simply stopped sending checks to its retired employees when its pension fund ran out in 2009. Sure, this contravened state law, but you can't pay out money you don't have.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crunching the Numbers Behind SF Public Employees' Bonuses

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 12:09 AM

In our cover story this week, we explore the little-publicized form of compensation known as "premium pay" -- a vast range of bonuses available to government employees for performing certain types of work, many of which are in their job descriptions.

Categories of premium pay include bonuses for firefighter-EMTs -- even though all San Francisco Fire Department employees are required to hold EMT certification as a condition of their employment -- and bonuses for engineers who hold emergency-response licenses required by the Public Utilities Commission.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Inspector General's Office Nixed By Jerry Brown. What Did Inspector General Do?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 12:30 AM


Move Will Save State Not Quite Three-Thousandths Of One Percent Of Looming Deficit

The office of Gov.-elect Jerry Brown yesterday announced it would be curtailing the office of inspector general in January as a cost-cutting move.

This, of course, prompts the question "what does the inspector general do?" It certainly sounds important. When we called Brown's office, it became clear that this wasn't a very easy question to answer. We were directed to call the doomed office and ask its walking dead employees what the hell they do all day.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , ,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jerry Brown Announces $2 Billion Settlement with Wells Fargo

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Hope you've got room in there for the billions you owe Californians...
  • Hope you've got room in there for the billions you owe Californians...

The office of Attorney General Jerry Brown announced today that Wells Fargo has agreed in a settlement to offer home-loan modifications worth $2 billion, and will also pay $32 million in restitution to borrowers who lost their homes through foreclosures.

According to a statement from the AG's office, the loans at issue were made not by Wells Fargo but by Wachovia, which the company acquired in 2008; and World Savings, bought by Wachovia in 2006.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"