San Jose is at the southern tip of Silicon Valley, and an epicenter for the technology sector. Home to major tech companies ranging from Adobe Systems to eBay, Brocade Communications to Cisco Systems, San Jose is a major technology hub. However, tech is not the only major industry in the region and the city continues to diversify its economic base. To get a better grasp on the economic situation in San Jose and learn why the city (and region) is a great value to students, we spoke to John Lang, Chief Economist for the Office of Economic Development for the City of San Jose.
In his role, John works on data analysis, economic modeling and forecasting for the City and its department. The second role is business development (outreach to business, responding to business inquiries, developing policies related to Economic Development) and managing two of the City's Business support programs including the Business Cooperation Program and the San Jose/Silicon Valley Emerging Technology Innovation Hub.
What is the economic outlook in San Jose?
The San Jose area has experience year over year job growth and is leading the nation in terms percentage growth in jobs. The job growth is primarily be driven in technology and business and professional services. Bankruptcies and foreclosures are all at pre-recession lows. Venture Capital still remains strong however the geography and industry focus has been evolving over the last couple of years with a greater focus on San Francisco. The Housing market remains very strong, year over year median home sales price are up 10 percent for San Jose area Single family homes. Year over year median home sales prices for San Jose (City) are up single family homes is up 15 percent, condo's are up 29 percent. R&D vacancy rates are down to 18.1 percent from 16.2 percent year over year. Industrial vacancy rates down to 4.1 percent from 5.9 percent. There is less than 2 million square feet of industrial space available in the San Jose area currently. Office vacancy rates are down to 14.8 percent from 12.19 percent.
How is San Jose leveraging career and vocational training to help the economy?
Local colleges and universities are more then ever working more closely with industry. Located with in the Office of Economic Development is the Federally Funded workforce investment opportunity act program, work2future, which is providing many of the training opportunities for youth and residents. For instance, work2future has been working with Jabil (an electronics manufacturer) in providing training to you for future careers in manufacturing. The Office of Economic Development has been working with Evergreen Community College and San Jose City College on developing curriculum in partnership with our manufacturers for future careers in advanced manufacturing. The Office of Economic Development is working with both the Business School and Engineering School on developing Centers of Excellence as a way to engage industry and the SJSU student population.
Technology is a major industry in San Jose, but what are the other major industries?
In downtown San Jose, we have a very strong legal and financial sector that supports much the tech and non-tech community. In addition both educational and health services are large industries based upon employment within the San Jose area.
Who are some of the major employers in San Jose?
Santa Clara County
City of San Jose
San Jose State University
US Postal Service
San Jose Unified School District
Good Samaritan Health System
Adobe Systems, Inc.
Cadence Design Systems Inc.
Why is San Jose an attractive location for students?
I think there is a lot to be said for California and the Bay Area Region. The Bay Area has a lot of amenities (walking, hiking, water sports, etc.) and culture and is attractive to a variety of people. I think the biggest attraction is the reputation of the institutions themselves. They are all critical to the success of the Bay Area and driving the innovation that people read and write about.
What is the housing situation like in San Jose?
There are growing divisions among the types of occupations and wages. See link to wage breakdown by occupation for San Jose area jobs. In addition to wages, it give an estimated breakdown of jobs within those occupations. Combined with the great diversity of wages (high end, shrinking middle wage jobs) growth in housing costs have been accelerating at double digits rates (reference point #2) versus salary growth has been still at single digit.
What do you expect to be the next emerging industry in San Jose?
Internet of Things (IoT)/Convergence of Hardware, Software. We have a very strong hardware/manufacturing base but as the sector evolves many of the long standing businesses (Manufacturers) are finding they need to incorporate more design and software development within their manufacturing operations which is where most of the emerging technology companies are starting with those approaches in mind.
Why would you recommend someone to move to San Jose?
San Jose has a lot to offer from a range of diverse occupations to a broad range of community amenities. The Bay Area is one of the most diverse areas related to population and industry. In addition you cannot beat the weather in California.
John Lang is a chief economist for the Office of Economic Development for the City of San Jose.
- Interview with John Lang, Chief Economist for the Office of Economic Development for the City of San Jose, September 2015
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015;http://www.bls.gov/