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Silicon Valley Poll: Dismal outlook

High housing costs, declining quality of life, homelessness top list of woes

Remote work here to stay

ONLINE BRIEFING OCTOBER 4, 9:00 AM PDT

October 3, 2022 – According to the just-released Silicon Valley Poll, nearly three out of four residents say their quality of life in the Bay Area has declined over the last five years, a concern that holds across all age, income, and education levels. The finding emerged from an exclusive poll by Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Bay Area News Group, which also found that respondents are more worried about crime, pessimistic about the regional economy, and are not yet ready to give up working from home.

“With the pandemic on its heels and the economy coming around, you might have thought we would be in a better mood,” said Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture and president of the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies. “But people are grumpy. They see that housing is out of reach, they see rising homelessness, and a runaway cost of living. They see gaping inequalities Add to this all our existential woes about climate, and it’s no wonder we’re surly.

The poll, which surveyed 1,628 registered voters in the five core Bay Area counties, found that people are feeling gloomy about the Bay Area’s economy, with just 38% saying economic conditions are good or excellent. And yet half of the respondents said their personal finances are in good or excellent shape.

Sixty two percent of respondents said the Bay Area is on the “wrong track” — a jump of 10 percentage points over last year. Their leading concerns were the cost of housing, the cost of living, homelessness, and drought.

Crime is an increasing worry for Bay Area residents, with 49% citing it as an extremely serious problem — up 12 percentage points from last year, the largest jump on the list.

Workers agree that working from home has changed their lives for the better, and they’re not ready to give it up. About half of those polled have the option to work from home; 43% of respondents would work from home sometimes, while 33% would work from home all the time, while 24% said they have no interest in remote work.

The Silicon Valley Poll is a public opinion survey placed in the field by Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s research arm, the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies, in partnership with the Bay Area News Group.

The polling was conducted by Embold Research, a division of Change Research, Inc.

Russell Hancock will moderate a briefing on the poll Tuesday, October 4 at 9 AM PDT. There is no cost to attend but advance registration is required. Space is limited.

Poll Highlights:

  • 64 percent of residents say the region is on the wrong track, a ten-point jump over the previous year. This pessimism is shared across gender, ages, races and ethnicities.
  • More than half of respondents (56 percent) say they are likely to leave the region “in the next few years,” a number holding firm from last year.
  • Extreme housing costs and homelessness are overwhelmingly seen as the region’s most serious problems (with nine of out ten residents rating these issues “extremely serious” or “very serious”).
  • Black or African American and Latino/a/x respondents are the most alarmed by high housing costs (82 percent label it “extremely serious,” compared to 76 percent of AAPI and 72 percent of White residents).
  • A nine-point spread indicates men and women experience the Silicon Valley economy differently (40 percent of men view it favorably, compared to 31 percent of women). Those views are likely driven by a significant income gap between genders also revealed by the survey: a greater share of working-age men (53 percent) than women (39 percent) report annual incomes at or above $100,000.
  • Republicans and Democrats see the region differently. 62 percent of Republicans say the quality of life here has grown “much worse,” but only 23 percent of Democrats agree.
  • Nearly eight out of ten Silicon Valley residents see racism as a significant problem, but the extremity of the response varies by race. 18 percent of White respondents view racism as “extremely serious” compared to 39 percent of Black, 30 percent of Hispanic or Latino/a/x and 29 percent of AAPI respondents.
  • Though considerable majorities see high housing costs as an “extremely serious” problem, there is little consensus around solutions. There is no majority support for building more single-family housing and only 39 percent would support additional units on single-family lots.
  • What support there is for housing drops precipitously when any kind of construction is proposed within a half-mile of home, but particularly for low-income housing (a 14-point drop) and housing for the homeless (a 17-point drop).
  • Remote work—at least part of the time—is becoming a defining feature of the Silicon Valley labor market, with 48 percent of the workforce participating. 75 percent of remote workers say they will continue some (41 percent) or all (35 percent) of the time.
  • Despite concern for the direction Silicon Valley is taking, two-thirds of respondents express a sense of belonging. This is felt more intensely by full-time students (83 percent) and those identifying as LGBTQ+ (82 percent). Black (46 percent) and Latino/a/x (45 percent) residents report a “very strong” sense of belonging, compared to 38 percent of White and 30 percent of AAPI residents

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The poll of 1,736 residents in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco counties was conducted September 9-20 for Joint Venture Silicon Valley and Bay Area News Group and has a margin of error of +/- 2.7%.

Read the report

For further reference

To access Silicon Valley’s online data hub, visit www.siliconvalleyindicators.org.

About the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies

The Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies is the research arm of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and is housed within the organization. The Institute provides research and analysis on a host of issues facing Silicon Valley’s economy and society. For more information, visit www.siliconvalleyindicators.org.

About Joint Venture Silicon Valley

Established in 1993, Joint Venture provides analysis and action on issues affecting the Silicon Valley economy and quality of life. The organization brings together established and emerging leaders—from business, government, academia, labor and the broader community—to spotlight issues, launch projects and work toward innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.jointventure.org.

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