San Jose’s National Quality of Living Ranking Gives Critics Pause

May 20, 2022

This week, San Jose rose through the ranks to become one of the two best places to live in the United States. But for researchers analyzing similar stats, making the top 10 list is a real headache.

According to US News and World Report’s Best Places to Live in the US list of 150 most populous metro regions for 2022-2023, San Jose ranked #5 based on factors such as affordability, attractiveness, quality of life and the labor market. San Jose received a score of 6.7 out of 10. The other Bay Area city on the list was San Francisco at No. 10.

“Year after year, San Jose tops or nears lists of the ‘best cities in the United States’ to live, work and grow a business,” Nanci Klein, San Jose’s director of economic development, told San Jose Spotlight. . “Not only is San Jose the global hub of innovation, but our spirit of curiosity and inclusiveness drives the exciting scenes of culture, cuisine, and the arts associated with our diversity and history.”

Russell Hancock, CEO and chairman of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, said he thinks San Jose will rank high on most metrics, except for housing, which he called “Achilles’ heel.” from the city.

“It’s a booming downtown with more to come and more, with fabulous neighborhoods with charm and character,” he told San José Spotlight. “These (reports) tend to be beauty pageants, and they’re constantly changing. But when you stack up the Bay Area, it’s no surprise. There aren’t many places that have a list ( of features) so amazing.”

But not everyone agrees, as the city has seen a decline in accessibility. San Jose was ranked among the five most expensive cities to rent in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developers during the first quarter of 2022. Families continue to leave the area due to a lack of housing affordable, resulting in a significant drop in school enrolment. Recent studies show that residents are not satisfied with what the city offers.

Sandy Perry, president of the Santa Clara County Affordable Housing Network, said the News & World Report score made no sense to him.

“If it’s so desirable, why are people leaving town? ” he said. “It does not reflect reality.”

Perry pointed to the latest census data that revealed San Jose’s population had fallen below one million.

“It may be desirable, but it’s not affordable,” he said.

A 2019 national community survey found that 42% of respondents would recommend San Jose as a place to live. But last June, the 2021 Silicon Valley Pain Index, which studies racial discrimination and income inequality in the region, reported that the pandemic had increased severe local racial and economic inequalities.

The index, conducted by San Jose State University’s Institute for Human Rights, found that black people were experiencing more than double the overall poverty rate and their average per capita income was falling by 1% per year. College-educated people of color reportedly earned about $11 less per hour than white residents with similar qualifications.

Last February, a Joint Venture Silicon Valley report revealed a “shocking wealth disparity”, with the top quarter of Silicon Valley earners owning 92% of the region’s wealth and the top 10% owning 75% . Last year, while the average annual income was $170,000 and the median income was $138,000, the average income for service workers was $31,000.

Scott Myers-Lipton, a professor at San Jose State University who helps put together the pain index, said this year’s index will be released in June and rebuts News & World Report’s score.

“Maybe if you’re in the top 30% that could be true, but not for the bottom 50%, that’s for sure,” Myers-Lipton said. “Nearly half of our kids in Silicon Valley, their parents don’t make enough money for them to be independent. This means they cannot afford rent, food, clothing, basics, without government or non-profit support. This doesn’t seem like it’s very conducive to quality of life.

Myers-Lipton pointed to the increase in homelessness countywide, recently reported in a survey conducted this spring.

“About 11% of our university students are homeless throughout the year,” he said. “How can we say that everything is fine? I would like to know what metrics they are looking at – these are not the metrics we are looking at.”

Contact Natalie Hanson at or @nhanson_reports on Twitter.

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