Legislative Analyst Report - Summary of 2000 City and County Census Data (File No. 012214)

TO: Honorable Members of the Board of Supervisors

FROM: Adam Van de Water, (415) 554-7788, adam.vandewater@sfgov.org, with
Jesse Martinez, Gabriel Cabrera, Elaine Forbes and Emily Gumper

DATE: February 26, 2002

SUBJECT: San Francisco 2000 Census Data


A request by the Board introduced by Supervisor Sandoval to 1) analyze 2000 Census data for San Francisco County as a whole as well as by supervisorial district and neighborhood using GIS and, 2) where appropriate, look at trends since the last census in 1990 and compare San Francisco to the State of California, the nation, region, and selected other municipalities.

NOTE: This report only presents data for the county as a whole. The OLA does not currently have the capacity to utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in order to analyze the data by supervisorial district or neighborhood. However, the OLA expects to develop this capacity this spring/summer and to produce a follow-up to this report at that time.


The census collects data in two stages: by means of a short form given to every housing unit requesting information in seven categories (Household relationship, Sex, Age, Hispanic or Latino origin, Race, Tenure, and Vacancy) and by means of a long form given to a random sample of approximately one of six households to estimate information in 25 more detailed categories. All 2000 census information was collected in late 1999 and reflects economic and demographic conditions prior to socioeconomic changes since that time.

San Francisco has undergone many changes since the last census in 1990. In short, San Francisco is now a more affluent, more highly educated city with less unemployment, fewer vacant housing units, more train and bicycle commuters, more Spanish and Asian language speakers, higher population density, more foreign-born residents and fewer kids. The number of people below the poverty level decreased for all but the senior population, real per capita annual income increased by 30%, the Asian population increased by up to 22%, and the African American population decreased by as much as 23%. This report summarizes selected statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and presents them by major category with the goal of simplifying the enormity of the existing data. A more detailed appendix is also included for the more ambitious reader.

Population & Race


  • San Francisco has 776,733 residents, making it the 4th largest city in the state and the 13th largest city in the country.
  • San Francisco is approximately 1/2 White, 1/3 Asian, and 1/6 all other races combined (see Figure 1). Approximately 1/7 of the city's population identifies itself as Hispanic or Latino.

1990-2000 Trends

  • Due in large part to its already high population density, the city added just 52,774 people between 1990 and 2000, a moderate growth rate of 7%, or nearly half the growth rates of the Bay Area (13%), state (14%) and nation (13%).
  • The San Francisco Hispanic/Latino population grew by 9%, considerably more slowly than the Bay Area (43%) and state growth rates (43%) but slightly more rapidly than the 7% average of all races in the county taken as a whole.
  • The Asian population grew the most significantly, increasing by approximately 20% since 1990 or nearly three times the county average growth rate.
  • African Americans left the city in high numbers, losing approximately 20% of their total population in San Francisco (see Table 1 below).

Table 1: Racial and Ethnic Populations 1990 and 2000

(% of Total San Francisco Population, rounded to nearest %)



% Change




387,783 (54%)

One race = 385,728 (50%)

Multiracial = 411,090 (53%)

One race = -1%

Multiracial = +6%


207,255 (29%)

One race = 239,565 (31%)

Multiracial = 252,982 (33%)

One race = +16%

Multiracial = +22%

African American

79,039 (11%)

One race = 60,515 (8%)

Multiracial = 66,566 (9%)

One race = -23%

Multiracial = -16%

Some Other Race

49,882 (7%)

One race = 77,818 (10%)

Multiracial = 101,161 (13%)

One race = +56%

Multiracial = +103%



100,717 (14%)

109,504 (14%)


Source: U.S. Census Bureau

TABLE 1 NOTES: (1) The "Multiracial" population presented above = the population of one race plus the population of that race in combination of one or more other races. For example, 53% of SF respondents identified themselves as white or of mulitracial heritage including white.

(2) A significant difference between the Census in 1990 and 2000 was the addition of a multiracial category. As multiracial respondents were no longer forced to choose one racial category in 2000 as they did in 1990, direct comparisons between 1990 to 2000 cannot be made.

(3) The 14% of San Francisco respondents who self-identified as Hispanic or Latino, will also be counted in one of the six racial categories (see footnote 1 on the previous page).

Age & Sex


  • Men narrowly outnumber women in the total population, 51% to 49%, while the opposite holds true nationally. However, men between the ages of 30 and 64 outnumber women of the same age range by 20% while women age 65 and over outnumber men by 39%.
  • San Francisco has the lowest percentage of residents under the age of 18 (14%, or nearly half the state average of 27%) of all 58 California counties.
  • In contrast, San Francisco has the highest percentage of 25-44 year olds (41%, or nine percentage points higher than the state average of 32%) of all 58 counties.

1990-2000 Trends

  • The census data does not support the popular opinion that the San Francisco population has become younger since 1990 as the largest population increases occurred for the population between the ages of 30 and 64. Meanwhile, the population under the age of 20 declined by 4% and the elderly population over the age of 65 remained relatively constant, increasing by less than 1%.

Citizenship Status


  • Of San Francisco's total population, 37% were born in a foreign country. This compares to 26% statewide and 11% nationally.
  • The majority of San Francisco residents native to the U.S. were born in California (56%), followed by those born in another state in the United States (42%), and those born outside the United States (<3%) (see Figure 5 below).

  • More foreign-born residents are naturalized citizens in San Francisco (57%) than in the state (40%) or nation (40%).

1990-2000 Trends

  • The number of U.S. native residents in San Francisco remained relatively constant while the number of foreign-born residents increased by 33,933 or 14%.



  • Of the population age 5 and over, the majority of San Franciscans speak only English at home (54%), followed by an Asian and Pacific Island language (26%), Spanish (12%), another Indo-European language (7%), or another language (1%).

  • Of those who speak a language other than English at home, just over two-thirds reported that they speak English "well" or "very well."

1990-2000 Trends

  • The number of San Franciscans who speak only English at home declined slightly while almost all other language categories increased from 1990 to 2000. Specifically, the number of individuals who speak an Asian and Pacific Island language increased by 18%, Spanish speakers increased by 12%, and those who speak another Indo-European language increased by 10%.



  • In 2000, median family income (for a household of four) in San Francisco County was $63,744: 20% higher than the $53,099 statewide median family income. Similarly, median household and per capita incomes in San Francisco were 23% and 59% above the State's average respectively.

San Francisco


Median family income, 2000

$ 63,744.00

$ 53,099.00

Median household income, 2000

$ 57,259.00

$ 46,543.00

Per capita income, 2000

$ 36,328.00

$ 22,785.00

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Sample Count

  • In 2000, over 50% of San Francisco households earned over $50,000, and 26% of households earned over $100,000. This compares to 47% and 17% statewide and 41% and 12% nationwide, respectively.
  • In 2000, median earnings for women in San Francisco were 22% less than median earnings for men. This wage gap is significantly lower than the national gap, where women earned 59% less than men at the median. Data on earnings by race is not yet available from the Census Bureau.

1990-2000 Trends

  • Perhaps most strikingly, after adjusting for inflation, per capita income has increased 30% over the last ten years and median household income has increased 40%. This is dramatically higher than the percentage change in real per capita income statewide (3%) and nationally (11%) as well as the observed decrease in real median household income at the state level (-3%) and the increase of just 2% at the national level (see Figure 8 below).
  • Adjusted for inflation, in 2000 far fewer (percentage) households in San Francisco earned less than $25,000 annually and a significantly larger (percentage) share of households earned over $100,000 compared to 1990.
  • The number of San Francisco households earning over $100,000 has more than tripled over the last decade (see Figure 9 below).

Poverty & Unemployment


  • 7% of San Francisco families have income levels below the poverty threshold, compared with 11% statewide and 10% nationwide. 38% of these are families with female householders and no husbands present.
  • 10% of San Francisco residents live below the poverty level, compared with 14% statewide and 13% nationwide.
  • 11% of San Francisco residents age 65 years and over live below the poverty level, compared with 9% statewide and 11% nationwide.

  • 8% of San Francisco households receive Public Assistance or SSI income, compared with 9% statewide and 6% nationwide.
  • 4.5% of San Francisco's workforce population is unemployed, compared with 6.1% statewide and 5.4% nationwide.

1990-2000 Trends

  • The percentage of San Francisco residents 65 years and over with poverty status increased from 9.9 to 11.2 percent from 1990 to 2000. The percentage of the San Francisco population with poverty status declined for every other category examined. The percentage of poor seniors increased between 1990 and 2000 at the statewide and national levels as well.
  • The number of poor families with children under 5 years of age decreased by nearly 75% from 1990 to 2000.
  • Unemployment decreased more in San Francisco (from 6.2% to 4.5%) between 1990 and 2000 than in California (from 6.5% to 6.1%) or in the nation as a whole (from 6.2% to 5.4%).
  • The percent of San Francisco households receiving Public Assistance or SSI income decreased from 10% in 1990 to 8% in 2000. This trend was found at the statewide and national levels as well.



  • San Francisco has a much higher percentage of commuters using public transit (32%) than the state (5%) or nation (5%) and a much lower percentage of commuters driving alone (41% compared to 72% and 76% respectively). Interestingly, despite regional efforts to promote carpool lanes, vanpooling and casual carpool, San Francisco had a smaller percentage of commuters carpooling (9%) than either the state (14%) or the nation (11%).
  • The 32-minute average travel time to work was four minutes longer than the state average of 28 minutes and six minutes longer than the national average of 26 minutes.

1990-2000 Trends

  • San Franciscans added an average of three minutes to their commute to work each day, an increase of 7.6%.
  • Carpooling (-11%), ferry (-19%) and streetcar (-12%) ridership, walking (-2%), and motorcycling (-3%) all declined as modes of choice from 1990 to 2000 while every other category increased, most notably heavy rail (+102%) and bicycling (+108%) whose riderships more than doubled. San Franciscans also turned to taxicab commuting (+62%), BART (+21%), working at home (+39%), and driving alone (+17%).
  • The data supports the theory that either workers are venturing further from their homes to find employment or that they are simply taking longer to get there as commute times under 20 minutes declined 6% to 15% while those over 40 minutes increased between 28% and 54%.



  • 23% of San Franciscans are enrolled in school, compared with 31% statewide and 28% nationwide. Those pursuing higher education make up a much larger percentage of total enrollees in San Francisco (45%) than in California (25%) or in the nation as a whole (21%).
  • The portion of the San Francisco population having attained at least bachelor degrees (48%) is nearly twice that in the nation as whole (25%) or California (28%). San Francisco County has the highest percentage of bachelor's degree recipients in the state.
  • The percentage of San Franciscans who have not completed the 9th grade (8%) exceeds the nationwide percentage (7%) but is exceeded by the statewide percentage (11%).

Trends 1990-2000

  • There was a marked increase in educational attainment in San Francisco between 1990 and 2000. The number of people having attained at least bachelor's degrees increased by 47%, while the number not having attained high school degrees decreased by 23%.
  • The increase from 1990 to 2000 in the percentage of San Francisco residents having attained at least bachelor's degrees (from 35% to 48%) exceeded increases at the statewide (from 23% to 28%) and national levels (from 20% to 25%).

Households & Families


  • 44% of San Francisco's 329,700 households are family households, compared with 69% statewide and 68% in the U.S. 32% of households are married-family households, compared with 51% in California and 52% in the United States as a whole.

  • Children under 18 years are present in 17% of all family households in San Francisco, while children are present in 36% of California family households and 33% of U.S. family households.
  • 56% of San Francisco's households are non-family households, compared with 31% statewide and 32% nationwide. 39% of all San Francisco householders live alone, compared with 24% statewide and 26% nationwide.
  • The average household size in San Francisco is 2.30 persons, compared with 2.87 for California and 2.59 for the country; the average family size in San Francisco is 3.22 persons, compared with 3.43 for California and 3.14 for the country.

Trends 1990-2000

  • Between 1990 and 2000, while the city gained 52,774 residents, the number of households grew by 24,116. The average number of persons per household increased slightly from 2.29 to 2.30 persons. Average family household size also increased very slightly, from 3.21 to 3.22 persons per household.

  • The number of households comprised of single persons or two or more unrelated persons living together increased slightly relative to family households over the past decade. The percentage of households occupied by families decreased from 46% of all households to 44%.
  • The rate of increase of non-family households in San Francisco and San Diego (both increased 13%) was higher than that in the state (10%) and Los Angeles (4%).
  • The number of family households in San Francisco increased by only 2%, while the number of family households in California and San Diego increased by 11% and 5%, respectively.



  • Nearly two-thirds of San Francisco's 329,700 occupied housing units are renter-occupied. The percentage of owner-occupied units in San Francisco is far lower than that in California (60%) or the country as a whole (66%).

  • San Francisco has 16,827 total vacant housing units, or 5% of total housing units. The homeowner vacancy rate is 0.8%, compared with 1.4% in the state and 1.7% in the U.S. The rental vacancy rate in San Francisco is 2.5%, compared with 3.7% in California and 6.8% in the U.S.
  • In 2000, the median value of an owner occupied housing unit was $427,938 and the median monthly rental contract was $977.
  • 30% of renters in San Francisco paid more than 1/3 of their income on rent in 2000.
  • The City's "seasonal, recreational, or occasional-use" units (together labeled "vacation homes") more than doubled from 1990 to 2000, increasing 149% at the same time similar units statewide increased just 21%.

Trends 1990-2000

  • The median value of a single-family home in San Francisco increased $129,038 or 7% in real terms (adjusting 1990 values into 2000 dollars for comparison) while the median value statewide decreased 18% from 1990 to 2000.
  • Median monthly rent in San Francisco increased $364 or 19% in real terms from 1990 to 2000 while real median rent statewide increased just 1.5%.

  • The number of households using 35% or more of their income for rent decreased by 19% as real median household income increased 27.5% over the same time period.
  • Vacancy rates decreased appreciably as a result of the improved economy. San Francisco's vacant housing units decreased 26% from 1990 to 2000 while the number of vacancies in the state decreased by 11%. Homeowner and rental vacancy rates dropped 53% and 56%, respectively (compared with 30% and 37% statewide).
  • The number of housing structures with 1 to 4 units grew by 26% while the number of housing structures with 5 to 9 units decreased by 5% and structures with 10 or more units increased 9%.
  • The number of units available for rent between $250 and $749 decreased by over 50% while the number offered at $1,000+ per month increased by 308%.
  • The total number of homeowners in California increased by 13% while San Francisco (9%), San Diego (12%), and Los Angeles (2%) trailed slightly behind.
  • Increases in the total number of renters in San Francisco (7%) mirrored those of the State (8%) even though the total percentage of householders who rent was much higher in San Francisco (62%) than the state (43%).