About The Bay: SF Economy Going In Dueling Directions

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MikeSugerman20100908_KCBS_0051r Mike Sugerman
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – It’s the best of times in San Francisco. And, the worst of times, too. Unemployment is sky-high, but it’s perhaps harder than ever before to score a table at a swanky restaurant or an apartment in a good neighborhood.

How can that be?

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:


“It’s like a nightmare,” Janet Forst described her present situation. She’s unemployed, among the roughly 9% unemployed in San Francisco and approximately 12% throughout the state.

Suffice it to say, jobs are hard to come by.

“I just, this week, got two responses from companies that I’ve applied to,” an unemployed San Franciscan named Victor described his possible turn of good fortune.

He’s looking for office work.

“They said they’ve been flooded with applications. They don’t give numbers but I imagine easily 50 to 100 people applying for one position.”

But as scores of people compete for jobs, plenty more are competing for housing in San Francisco. The average rental price these days is hovering around $2,150 for a one-bedroom unit.

That’s why San Francisco State University grad student Scott Reed was pinning his hopes on an apartment in the Richmond District listed for $1,650 per month. Several dozen other people showed up, hoping to snag it.

“That’s why there’s 50 people there,” he reasoned. “I have seen very few rentals below $2,000.”

Upscale homes are also being snatched up quickly, many selling over asking price and with multiple offers, no less. It’s the same story at tony restaurants, too.

“No, I’ve never seen anything this split between one sector doing very well and nobody else really participating,” summed up Stephen Levy with the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy. “Everything about this recession is new.”

“There are these pockets of affluence and job growth and rising salaries, it has not reached much beyond that small circle.”

That small circle, said Levy, is all about technology.

“It wasn’t like the people at Starbucks or Whole Foods were getting raises,” he pointed out. “All of those raises were concentrated in tech.”

You can hear Mike Sugerman’s About the Bay reports on Mondays at 6:40am, 7:40am and 8:40am on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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