The Urgency to Achieve an Inclusive Economy in the Bay Area
Whether Bay Area residents like it or not, city leaders across the country are watching how this high-tech region grapples with the consequences of dizzying economic growth — expensive housing, stark inequalities and congestion, to name a few. While the most obvious policy failures may lie with transportation and housing, focusing on the built environment alone is insufficient. The economy matters too. Increasing the availability of good-paying jobs and training more local workers for stable careers can help residents earn enough to keep pace with the region’s rising cost of living. This region is adept at attracting talented workers from across the world to take lucrative positions in fast-growing tech-savvy companies. Yet more must be done to help existing residents access quality jobs in the innovation economy and in the industries that support it.
The Bay Area confronts two futures: one in which innovation and economic growth continue to drive social upheaval and inequities; and another in which leaders in business, government and the civic sector work together to help everyone in the region to participate in — and contribute to — economic growth. As America’s undisputed capital of the innovation economy, though, the Bay Area stands apart. Its path in the years ahead could serve as an exemplar to other regions for how to navigate economic inclusion in the 21st century — or as a cautionary tale.
In pursuing the second future, leaders across the region would do well to understand the economic challenges we face, and to consider a wider set of strategies that can make the Bay Area a center of innovation and inclusion.