Contact Us

Bay Area Leads Nation In Retail Worker Shortage, Other Skill Shortages


The San Francisco Bay Area leads the nation with the largest shortage of those with retail sales skills, according to LinkedIn's September workforce report.

Retail hiring is up slightly, growing 0.5% from a year ago in August, but demand for retail workers has surged across the country, LinkedIn reports. In some markets, such as Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Philadelphia, there is a surplus of workers with retail sales skills, but the Bay Area, New York City and Seattle continue to struggle this year to find enough qualified employees to fill those positions.

New York City changed dramatically in the first half of the year, going from a surplus of qualified retail workers in January to a shortage by July. The report posits that shift may be due to declines in retail rents in the city, creating an environment for new retail stores to open.

The Bay Area has shortages in workers skilled in more than just retail. The region also leads the nation in overall skill shortages, followed by New York City, Los Angeles and Boston. New York City is in an interesting position, because the city, while second on the list for largest skill shortages, is first on the list for largest skills surpluses — related to different types of jobs.

These skills are defined as those in the most demand from a region's employers and those held by local workers.

The San Francisco Bay Area didn't break the top 10 for skill surpluses.

The Bay Area skills gap falls into areas such as oral communication (a shortage of 105,883 people), business management, leadership and, not surprisingly for the tech-focused region, skills related to social media, data science, data storage, computer networking and web development (with shortages ranging from around 27,500 to around 36,000 people each).

The area does have a surplus of workers with certain skills, including those in negotiation, property management and real estate, healthcare and education — though those surpluses don't break 2,000 people in any category, and half the list shows a surplus of less than 700.

The challenge of finding the right type of workers may increase in the coming years, as the Bay Area continues to lose more workers than it gains. While the region continues to attract workers from New York City, Boston and Chicago, many workers are moving out of the area to cities like Seattle, Portland and Denver, according to the report. For now, the Bay Area is still top of the list for tech talent, but large tech employers continue to grow outside of the region and funnel workers there, and the high cost of living continues to be a burden on workers who then seek to move elsewhere.