10 Dec 2017

San Francisco by the Numbers

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Selected San Francisco Demographics
December 2017 Special Report

People tend to think that real estate is all about houses, but the reality is it’s all about people. As a longtime resident, I’ve seen a lot of change in San Francisco, and I wanted to share a snapshot of what the city really looks like today: Who we are, where we come from, and how we live. Enjoy these charts that illustrate the state of our city in 2017.

Depending on data source, these analyses pertain to either San Francisco alone, or to a multi-county San Francisco Metro Area, as noted on each chart.

Ethnicity, Race, and Ancestry

San Francisco's ethnicity, race, and ancestry

Our diversity makes San Francisco the vibrant place it is. There is no one racial majority in San Francisco. Though caucasians are collectively the largest macro group, at just over 41% of the population, Asians make up nearly as much of the population, comprising 33.5%. Moreover, Chinese residents make up the largest single group by a substantial margin; more than 21% of San Francisco residents being Chinese. Latinos make up about 15%, African Americans just over 5%, and nearly 5% are multiracial.

Languages Spoken at Home

Languages spoken at home in San Francisco

It is estimated that there are 20 languages other than English spoken at home by at least 1000 residents, with Chinese (18.4%), Spanish (11.1%), Tagalog (3.2%), and Russian (1.7%) being the top four.

The Ages of San Francisco

San Francisco population broken out by age

You’re not imagining it: San Francisco is a young city with almost 40% of residents between 25 and 44. But not too young — San Francisco has the smallest percentage of residents under 18 of any major US city.

Religious and Spiritual Practices & Beliefs

Religious beliefs in San Francisco

As with ethnicity, there is no majority religion in San Francisco, though nearly have are broadly Christian. On the other hand, 37% of San Franciscans are atheist, agnostic, or don’t identify with any specific religion.

Level of Education

Level of education in San Francisco's population

San Francisco is a very educated city, with over 345,000 people possessing at least a bachelor’s degree. In fact, San Francisco ranks 3rd in percentage of residents with bachelor’s degree or higher (54%) and also 3rd in percentage with graduate or professorial degree (21%), behind Seattle and Washington, DC.

The Bay Area has 2 of the 10 top-rated universities in the world, 2 of the top 20 schools of medicine, and 2 of the top 6 law schools.

Employment by Industry

San Francisco employment by industry

According to the CA Employment Development Department, in September 2017 there were 555,200 residents employed in San Francisco, with an unemployment rate of 2.9%. Tech leads the pack, with 127,5000 residents working in the field, but manuy other industries remain strong economic drivers in the city.

The Bureau of Labor statistics analyzes average annual wages for over 700 local occupations in the SF metro area. Below is a sampling of approximately 50 of them.

San Francisco 5-County Metro Area Average Annual Wage by Occupation


C-suite executives are top earners in the Bay Area, but medical practitioners in general dominate the top end of the spectrum.

San Francisco Commuting Statistics

San Francisco commuting statistics

24% of working SF residents commute outside of San Francisco. 330,000 non-residents commute into San Francisco. Women carpool 25% more than men, and use public transit 17% more. Men bike to work 93% more than women. The average one-way commute is 32 minutes, but 13% of working residents have one-way commuts of 60 minutes or more.

Selected Statistics by San Francisco zip code

Median household income of select San Francisco zip codes

Looking at this chart, you may wonder why neighborhoods like Pacific Heights and Russian Hill do not show up at the top of the income table, and why South Beach and the Presidio do. First of all, the zip codes for both Pacific Heights and Russian Hill include other, much less affluent neighborhoods. For example, the zip code for Russian Hill runs all the way into the Tenderloin, and that for Pacific Heights includes most of the Western Addition. Both zip codes also include many renters under long-term rent control. Both these situations skew their median household income figures lower.

On the other hand, the South Beach area is a recently built neighborhood, not long ago filled with parking lots and small commercial enterprises, but now filled with luxury condo buildings. The condos are quite expensive and since all the buildings have been built since 1990, there is no rent control, which means its renters generally pay high market rents. Whether owner or renter, one has to be earning a very substantial income to live there. The Presidio, and we are talking about the park (which contains rental housing), is under federal jurisdiction, so it too is exempt from rent control, and, of course, since it is right next to Pacific and Presidio Heights, its market rents are also quite high, which likewise affects income requirements accordingly.

Most educated San Francisco zip codes

Unsurprisingly, degree of education correlates strongly with household income figures.

Percent of Owner-Occupied Housing in Select Zip Codes
Owner-occupied housing in San Francisco zip codes

At 36%, San Francisco has a significantly lower home onwership rate than California (54%) and barely more than half the national rate of 64%. Zip codes that buck this trend are 94112 (Excelsior-Ingleside), 94116 (Parkside-Forest Hill), and 94127 (St. Francis Wood-Miraloma) at an amazing 80% of units owner occupied.

Average Annual Household Expenditures

San Francisco average annual household expenditures

Not surprisingly, San Franciscans spend more on housing than anything else, more than triple the next highest data point, which is savings and Social Security. We also like to eat out; San Franciscans spend more on dining out than groceries.

How San Franciscans spend their money

On average, Bay Area residents spend 45% less on cola beverages than the national average, 49% less on prescription drugs, 61% less on cigarettes, and 68% less than wigs and hairpieces (though I’m sure a few of my drag queen friends would contend that last point).

We spend 43% more on health and fitness clubs and watches, 44% more on books, 64% more on charity, and almost twice as much on houskeeping services — the highest average spending per resident in the nation for housekeeping. We also spend 170% more than the national average for women’s tailored clothing.

Political Leanings

How California counties voted

We are a famously blue city, and that bears out in the voting records. Seven of the nine top Democratic-voting counties are in the Bay Area, with San Francisco ranking first.

A Selection of Miscellaneous Data Points

This chart is just a representation of a mix of fun facts about the city. We’re a very green city, with 125,000 trees—and about 120,000 dogs who visit them. As a resident of Noe Valley, I find that a very plausible number. It seems like every household here has at least one dog (including mine).

The city isn’t always a paradise for cars, though. Hundreds of thousands of parking tickets are issued each month — well over a million a year. And more than 30,000 breaks-ins are reported each month; that’s 84 a day. Remember: Never leave anything valuable in your car, even if you’re just dashing in to grab a cup of coffee.

Just 11.5% of San Franciscans smoke, less than the national rate of 15.1%, and our obesity rate at 14.8% is well under half the national rate of 36.5%. Way to stay healthy, SF!

The city became a gay haven since the ’70s, and to this day has a strong presence, with an estimated 15.4% of the population identifying as LGBT. That’s almost four times the national rate of 4.1%. Fabulous!

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Want more charts? All of Paragon’s reports and articles can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

The data herein is from a wide variety of third party sources deemed reliable – much of it from national, state and local government data sources – but it may contain errors, and is subject to revision. When the term San Francisco Metro Area is used, it signifies that the data includes various nearby counties outside the city, however different organizations vary in which counties they include in that description. If different sources disagreed, we chose the data we thought most reasonable. Different analyses often pertain to somewhat different time periods. All data should be considered approximate or good-faith estimates.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

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