Economy of San Francisco


The United States has a capitalist, mixed economy with the largest gross domestic product (GDP) in the world at $14.3 trillion. The leading businesses are wholesale and retail trade, with finance and insurance offering the biggest net income. The country's primary trading partners are Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany. The United States ranks third in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index and first in the ease of hiring and firing workers.

California's many desirable natural attributes, paired with its diverse population, make it a very successful state economically. Its 36.5 million inhabitants are responsible for about 13% of the United States' GDP which is valued at about $1.7 trillion. San Francisco's position as a port, scenic and cultural beauty, and timing as a gold rush town have all been elemental in making it a particularly successful financial power house since the late 1880s.

The city's natural, landlocked harbor is now a network of trade and transportation. The main port is in Oakland with eight smaller ports scattered around the bay area. These ports, along with three key airports, allow the Bay area to handle nearly 30% of West Coast trade.

Since the Gold Rush days of banking glory, San Francisco has hosted a wealth of international financial institutions. Some of the country's largest banks, including the Pacific Exchange, have headquarters here. The city's banking industry has an unusual point of pride that in the 1929 stock market crash not a single San Francisco-based bank failed.

Technology has also found a home here. In fields ranging from the biotechnology industry to academic researchers, progressive companies have put roots down in San Francisco. World War II also created a boom in defense industries, mainly in the areas of high-technology. In the late 1990s, a dot-com boom led many entrepreneurs and computer application developers into the city. The bubble for this market burst in 2001, but many high technology and entrepreneurship continue in the San Francisco economy.

The biggest money-maker in San Francisco's economy is the $6.73 billion dollar tourist industry. The unique geography, liberal atmosphere, and quality entertainment and culture of the city draw visitors from across the globe.

For more information of San Francisco's economy, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Update 2/01/2009

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