Skip to main content

Unemployment spikes to highest levels since pandemic began in these Bay Area metros

Pedestrian passes the Employment Development Department at 745 Franklin St. in San Francisco on March 8, 2023. | Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

News of tech layoffs keeps rolling in, and it’s showing no sign of stopping. On Monday morning, Amazon let go of another 9,000 employees, after laying off 18,000 workers in January due to poor end-of-year profits. 

Though the majority of laid-off workers were not based in San Francisco, experts say the ongoing tech bloodbath is starting to impact the local economy. 

San Francisco’s unemployment rate jumped from 2.0% to 2.8% in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though some of that spike might be due to expected seasonal turnover, city economist Ted Egan said the spike could be a major cause for concern.

“The number of unemployed residents of San Francisco jumped by 4,500 in January, according to the BLS,” Egan said. “This was the largest jump since the start of the pandemic.” 

Unemployment rates increased in both the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan regions between December and January: The SF metro region jumped from 2.6% unemployment to 3.3%, while the San Jose metro area saw a similar uptick, rising from 2.4% to 3.1% unemployment, according to the bureau's data. 

Some of these preliminary unemployment numbers might change as the state's Employment Development Department releases new data for February and March, Egan says.

It’s not just tech workers getting laid off; Egan also added that the number of job listings in San Francisco has declined precipitously since the middle of 2022, indicating that new jobs may be harder and harder to come by.

Still, the region’s unemployment rate is still well below the 13% high it reached at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

The Standard has tracked more than 20,000 layoffs in the city or by SF companies since the beginning of 2023.

Shelley D. Fargo contributed additional research for this story.