Median earnings: In an equitable economy, all workers would earn a living wage.
Insights & Analyses
- Median earnings increased modestly (in real terms) in the Nine-County Bay Area between 2000 and 2019 while they declined statewide.
- Large racial disparities exist, however: White workers have the highest median earnings by far ($92,054), which is nearly double the median earnings for Native American workers ($48,952).
- Men earn more than women across all racial/ethnic groups, though the gender pay gap is smallest for Black and Native American workers.
- Large gender disparities exist for White and Asian or Pacific Islander workers, where median earnings for men are are about $30,000 and $25,000 more than earnings for women, respectively.
- Workers in Marin County have the highest median earnings ($87,254) and Sonoma County workers have the lowest ($54,705).
Drivers of Inequity
Mirroring national trends, our regional economy is increasingly polarized between high-wage, knowledge-economy jobs and low-wage service sector jobs, while the middle-wage jobs that have typically served as stepping stones into the middle class for workers without college degrees are disappearing. High-wage workers are seeing tremendous income gains while low-wage workers' wages have stagnated or declined. Racial and gender inequity is baked in to earnings disparities as well since workers of color and female workers are segregated into the lowest-paid occupations and sectors.
Invest in people: Strategies to ensure economic security for all
- Promote high-road business models that compete based on offering good jobs.
- Create accessible pathways and diversify the tech sector.
- Raise the minimum wage at the local, state, and federal level.
- Enact living-wage laws that require government offices and contractors to pay living wages.
- Strengthen workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively for improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions.
- Establish standards to ensure public investments in economic development and infrastructure to create living wage jobs.
- Pursue full employment economic policies that promote hiring, increased work hours, and rising wages for low-wage workers.
Strategy in Action
Oakland Army Base Community Benefits Agreement ensures local residents have access to jobs and skills development. As a part of the redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base in the Port of Oakland, the Revive Oakland! Coalition, convened by East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, secured a set of good job policies that will ensure the $800 million investment will result in local and targeted hiring, living wage, stable employment, workforce development support, and community oversight and enforcement. Through a partnership with the City of Oakland and community groups, the agreement holds the Port of Oakland accountable for meeting equitable hiring practices that benefit local residents, prioritizing those who are unemployed, veterans, recipients of earned income tax credits, or formerly incarcerated. As of April 2019, 45 percent of all work hours have gone to Oakland residents and 65 percent of all apprentice hours have gone to Oakland residents who face barriers to employment. For many, access to these opportunities have opened doors to high-paying jobs elsewhere in the Bay Area. Learn more.
In Their Own Words...
“ I’m doing way better now. I worked at Home Depot for years and wasn’t making half of what I’m making as a second year apprentice.”
The waitlist for carpenters’ apprenticeship programs is normally two-years long, but 37-year old Tyann Taylor was able to break into the trade within months after Working Partnerships’ Trades Orientation Program led her directly to a pre-apprenticeship. Tyann is now two years into an apprenticeship—and fully satisfied with her career choice.
Photo: Felix Uribe
- Data: Insight Family Needs Calculator; Living Wage Calculator; Vital Signs: Jobs by Wage Level; Latinx Families in the Golden State: When Working Hard Isn't Enough
- Reports: Bad Credit Shouldn’t Block Employment; The Economic Impact of Local Living Wages; Wage Trends Show Increases for Low-Wage Jobs While Middle-Wage Job Growth Slows