Who is Low Income and Very Low Income in the Bay Area?

Dear Atlas users,

Our latest analyses indicate that people living and working in the Bay Area continue to face economic challenges, including growing income polarization and financial stress related to job loss or pay cuts. As the effects of the pandemic and long-standing inequities continue to unfold across the region, the Bay Area Equity Atlas remains committed to partnering with local advocates and policy leaders to ensure that equity is at the forefront of our region’s recovery. Explore the latest Atlas research and updates:

Nearly Half of All Residents In the Bay Area Are Either Low Income or Very Low Income

The follow-up analysis to our 2020 examination of the racial and ethnic makeup of low- and very low-income residents in the Bay Area reveals that 3.5 million people in the region — 46 percent of the area’s total population — are either very low-income or low-income. We also found that there are region-wide racial disparities: Black and Latinx residents make up a larger share of very low-income residents compared to white and Asian or Pacific Islander residents. Our analysis also indicates that there are county-level differences: Compared to the other Bay Area counties, San Francisco has a markedly higher rate of residents with lower incomes (54 percent). Learn more about the crisis of income polarization in the nine-county region by delving into these and other findings.

Bay Area Residents Continue to Face Significant Economic Challenges

Building off data from the Bay Area Recovery Tracker, the latest analysis in our series exploring how the region’s residents are faring post-Covid illustrates how racial and economic inequities are fueling an uneven recovery for communities of color and people with low incomes. We found that six in 10 low-income adults and almost half of adults of color are still unable to cover their usual expenses, including buying food and groceries; paying housing and utility bills; and keeping up with monthly car payments and other transportation costs. The gap between lower income and higher income households experiencing a loss of employment income also continues to widen: There is a 23 percentage-point gap between lower income and higher income households reporting a loss of employment income, up significantly from an eight percentage-point gap in April 2021. Other issues, including tech industry layoffs and persistent occupational segregation, have increased job instability and economic uncertainty for workers in the region. For more insights, explore the full analysis.

Atlas on the Road

The Atlas team continues to meet with organizations, officials, advocates, and communities across the region to share timely data and actionable solutions to support their efforts to advance equity. On January 24, Ryan Fukumori presented during the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors' annual budget retreat, in which he shared insights about the state of equity in the county. This week, he will conduct a similar presentation to the East County Resource Coalition. On February 7, Ryan and Simone Robbennolt will participate in a pre-event panel discussion during NeighborWorks America’s 2023 symposium, "Advancing Equity for People of Color: Local Solutions for Housing Stability.”

Atlas in the News

This month, the San Francisco Chronicle cited findings from our profile of the Bay Area’s AAPI population in a story about the fastest-growing languages in the region. The East Bay Times mentioned the Atlas and our insights in a piece about efforts to address renter displacement as the housing development boom continues in Mountain View, California. Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, also cited several Atlas analyses in an op-ed published in the San Francisco Examiner. For more, check out the complete list of our media coverage.

Thank you,

Bay Area Equity Atlas team


Gabriel Charles Tyler
Gabriel Charles Tyler