New Data: Professional Workers Returning to San Francisco Bay Area

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We’re not out of the woods yet, by a long shot, but new data from LinkedIn this week found that younger, professional workers are returning to the Bay Area and San Francisco. In fact, the data found that the Bay Area ranked second among all major metropolitan areas nationally for the number of professionals settling here over the past 12 months. That’s welcome news after what seemed like an unending parade of news reports about an exodus of workers and others from the Bay Area and California, first because of sky-high housing costs and other problems preceding the COVID pandemic and then from the pandemic shift to remote work that enabled many of the region’s tech and other remote-eligible professionals to work from anywhere.

With pandemic restrictions gone and many employers returning to hybrid models of remote and in-person work, the LinkedIn data indicates that professionals are now returning. The Bay Area Council’s research shows that many employers have adopted policies requiring two or three days of in-person work a week. There’s also speculation that workers are recognizing the value of in-person engagement, both for career advancement and productivity.

The news is encouraging for downtown business districts that have suffered mightily from empty office towers, but it doesn’t mean those buildings will fill up anytime soon. That’s why the Council is continuing to partner with other business groups and local government leaders on long-term strategies for reimagining our downtowns, diversifying industry mixes, repurposing office space and making our cities more resilient to these kinds of dramatic changes.

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