September 24, 2014| Lauren Hepler| Silicon Valley Business Journal| Link
Silicon Valley’s median income is now 43 percent higher than the typical American household, underscoring both the upsides (bigger paychecks for some) and the drawbacks (housing, anyone?) of rapid economic growth.
At $94,572, the region’s 2013 median household income dwarfed both California’s statewide $61,320 median and the nationwide $53,291 median, according to a new analysis of federal data by think tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley. The proportion of households in Silicon Valley bringing in more than $150,000 per year also jumped from 26 percent to 29 percent last year.
That increase reflects the dynamism of a market rapidly adding high-paying jobs in fields like engineering and finance. But that picture of prosperity is clouded by declining economic mobility for those in lower-wage jobs and a decline in middle-class jobs, which doesn’t mesh well with skyrocketing costs of living.
“We need to call it like it is. We need to own up to our dysfunction,” Joint Venture CEORussell Hancock told me. “We like all these jobs, but we don’t want to provide the housing.”
As it stands, the region is on a path to an even more divided society where public-safety workers, teachers, restaurant workers — and, increasingly, white-collar workers like doctors and lawyers — can’t afford to live here, he said.
As I have reported, one major driver of the region’s $2,000-plus rents and million-dollar “average” homes is a jarring imbalance in the supply of workforce housing. Palo Alto, for instance, has more than three jobs for every one housing unit in the city. That jobs-housing mismatch becomes even more extreme when factoring in Silicon Valley’s much-discussed income polarization.