Jobs Business SizeGreen BusinessLocation Quotient Total Taxable Sales Venture Capital Skilled Workforce

Sustainability Goals

Employment is spread across industries, and the availability of jobs and workers with matching skills is in balance. Jobs pay at least a living wage, meaning that workers earn the minimum income needed to meet basic needs such as shelter, clothing, and food. Innovation boosts the regional economy, encourages resource use efficiency, and drives growth in other sectors like retail and food services.


Job growth expands a community’s economy, while employment spread across industries reduces the impacts of a recession. A growing economy with high employment rates leads to increased business investment and generates revenue for local and state governments to fund public services.

  • Industry employment tracks the number of jobs at employers located in San Mateo County.
  • The service sector holds an increasing share of jobs and currently accounts for 88% of jobs in the county, while goods production is only 12.6%.
  • Agriculture jobs constitute .5% of industry employment, a decrease from 1% in 2013.

  • In 2016, the overall number of jobs increased by 2%, a reflection of a 4% increase in service jobs and 10% decrease in Goods Producing jobs.

  • In 2014, the “Professional and Business Services” jobs became the largest category of service jobs and the category continues to grow.
  • The “Information” category showed the greatest increase from 2015 to 2016.
  • Within the “Trade, Transportation & Utilities” sector, “Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities” jobs decreased the most, 79% since 2000.
  • Service Providing jobs have increased by 9% since 2000, Goods Producing jobs have decreased by 22%, and farm jobs have decreased by 38%.

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Business Size

As San Mateo County’s FY 2017-19 Proposed Budget illustrates, the county is home to diverse businesses, from international corporations to small shops and manufacturers. The five ‘community outcomes” of San Mateo County’s Shared Vision 2025 include healthy, livable, prosperous, environmentally conscious, and collaborative. This vision expresses the hope that as an environmentally conscious community, “Our natural resources are preserved through environmental stewardship, reducing our carbon emissions, and using energy, water and land more efficiently.”

Number of Businesses and Percent of Employees by Business Size San Mateo County, 2017

  • In 2017, the total number of businesses increased by over 1000 compared to the prior year to 28,081.
  • The majority of businesses in the county are small businesses, there were 18,105 businesses with 0-4 employees in 2017.
  • Although the majority of businesses in the county are small (0-4 employees), most of the employees in the county work for larger sized companies with 50 or more employees.
  • The largest employers in the county include: San Francisco International Airport, Genentech, Oracle, the County of San Mateo, and Kaiser Permanente.
  • Other large employers in the county (with more than 1,000 employees) are Electronic Arts, Franklin Resources, Gilead Sciences, Guckenheimer, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, and Visa.

San Francisco Airport (SFO), recently recognized by Acterra with a Business Environmental Award in 2017, is one example of how sustainability is being implemented in a San Mateo County based operation. SFO has adopted the airport-specific EONS definition of sustainability developed by the Airports Council International. EONS stands for economic viability, operational efficiency, natural resource conservation, and social responsibility. SFO aims to minimize the impact of airport operations on the environment at the local, regional, and global levels. SFO’s sustainability initiatives include resource conservation, preservation of habitats at and near the Airport; and reduction of GHG emissions from Airport-controlled operations.


Total Taxable Sales

  • Total taxable sales shows retail sales activity for all transactions subject to sales tax and is an important barometer for overall economic activity in a region.
  • Total taxable sales in 2015 (the latest year for which data is available) decreased by $226 million compared with the year prior.

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Green Business

A growing number of businesses in the U.S. are recognizing the value of going green”from reducing GHG emissions and using resources more efficiently to building and portraying their brands as more sustainable.

Analysis from the Economic Policy Institute found that green industries are growing faster than the overall economy and that states with a higher share of green jobs have generally fared better during the Great Recession. Manufacturing plays a key role in the green economy, and green jobs are accessible to workers having completed certificate programs or without a college degree. Green jobs also extend far beyond the energy sector, with employment opportunities in the water, pollution prevention, agriculture, IT, and services sectors.


  • As of January 2016, 133 companies in the county had been certified as green businesses under the San Mateo County Green Business Program, compared to 76 in 2014.

Business as a Force for Good

Benefit corporations and certified B Corporations contribute to an emerging sector of the global economy concerned with triple bottom line sustainability and the complex impacts of doing business on future generations. There are over 2,310 certified B Corporations world wide, with 21+ businesses headquartered in California. These include companies, for example Patagonia and New Leaf, that provide consumer goods including food, clothing, outdoor apparel, and jewelry; organizations that offer financial, banking, management consulting, and legal services; software and technology companies; plus architects and environmental services, among others.

Companies with values consistent with long-term sustainability can invest in the B Corp certification process, offered by B Lab. B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for goodTM. Benefits of becoming certified as a B Corp include being part of a community with shared values and protecting a company’s mission long term.


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Location Quotient

The location quotient (“LQ”) shows industry strength in a region by comparing the job concentration in a particular sector with that sector’s national average. A score of one means the concentration in jobs is equal to the national average, higher than one means a larger share than the national average, and lower than one means a smaller share.

Industries with high LQs often bring money into a region and through the multiplier effect create jobs in other industries like retail and food services. Industries with high LQs as well as high job numbers form a region’s economic base, but can also leave the region prone to economic disruption in the event of decline in that sector. Industries with lower LQs can be targets for new investment and can increase the diversity of a region’s economic composition.


  • The Information sector has very high LQ scores in San Mateo County and its bordering counties, but only makes up 7.6% of the county’s workforce.
  • The Professional & Business Services sector is also strong and makes up 23% of the county’s workforce.
  • San Mateo County has a lower share of the workforce than the national average in manufacturing, educational services, and healthcare and social assistance.

Clean Tech

Scientific and technological innovation is the process of continuous improvement, renewal, and change to create more effective processes, treatments, goods, or services. It is a key catalyst for prosperity and human wellbeing. Through innovation, new ideas like the personal computer, cell phone, drugs to fight cancer, and photovoltaic panels get turned into valuable products that in turn help people live better, more productive lives.

Clean tech is a growing industry that includes agriculture, bio products, renewable energy, water and wastewater management, and transportation. Investment in clean tech has increased by 57% from 2013(Q3) to 2014(Q3). Silicon Valley received more funding in clean tech ($179 million) than any other region, nearly quadruple the amount of the second highest region. Solar Energy and Smart Grid and Energy Storage saw the largest growth with increases of 51% and 52%, respectively. Solar energy is becoming an increasingly popular source for renewable energy in homes and commercial buildings. As a percentage of the United States’ renewable power mix, solar has quadrupled in just a two year period. For more information on solar energy, see our energy indicator.

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Venture Capital

Venture Capital (VC), which provides financing to early-stage growth startup companies, plays a key role in bringing new ideas and inventions to market. VC firms offer not only financial capital, but also give start-up companies the talent and experience of seasoned industry leaders to help them succeed.

  • Venture capital funding in Silicon Valley decreased by 12% 2015 to 2016.
  • In 2016, 80% of all venture funding in California and 43% of all venture funding in the United States went to Silicon Valley companies.

Sustainability as a Core Business Strategy

From an economic development standpoint, making the investment in sustainable business practices by implementing sustainability as a core business strategy not only contributes to an environmentally conscious community, but also makes good business sense. Several San Mateo based companies demonstrate leadership and excellence in this regard, including Sustainable San Mateo County award winners Sunwork Renewable Energy Projects, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company, and Lyngso Garden Materials, Inc., among others.

In the high tech arena, integrating environmental considerations into product design and development can contribute to energy efficiency as well as other key sustainability criteria. Implementing sustainability goals in both operations and product development can result in decreases in energy and water consumption plus minimization of waste and travel. Supply chain management presents a significant opportunity to set and meet sustainability goals. Several California based high tech companies have implemented best practices in supply chain management globally, meeting ethical standards for sourcing, and complying with or exceeding industry standards and California legislation.


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Skilled Workforce

  • San Mateo County is well ahead of state and national rates for workforce educational attainment.
  • The percent of adults with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher increased by 6% between 2015 and 2016.

  • STEM jobs are in the field of science, technology, engineering, and math.
  • A report by the U.S. Department of Labor found that while only 5% of the U.S. workforce is employed in STEM jobs, these fields are responsible for more than 50% of our country’s current and projected economic growth.
  • With a shortage of U.S. workers trained in these fields, Silicon Valley companies are bringing in STEM workers from other countries.

Losing the Edge

Having workers trained in these fields is vital for continued innovation and economic growth, but our education system has not been able to keep up with the growth in this field. Currently only 33% of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the U.S. are in STEM fields versus 53% for China and 63% for Japan. Women and minorities are especially underrepresented in these fields. Although they make up half of the U.S. workforce, females hold less than 25% of STEM-related jobs


  • Jobs in STEM related fields in the U.S. have grown three times faster than non-STEM jobs over the last 10 years, and STEM workers earn 26% more than their non-STEM counterparts. Over the next decade, STEM jobs are projected to grow nationwide by 17% versus 9.8% for other fields.

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California Employment Development Department (EDD), Labor Market Information division, retrieved from

Information on B Corp certification:

San Mateo County’s FY 2017-19 Proposed Budget:

San Mateo County’s Shared Vision 2025:

Overview of B Corp concept and certification criteria: Honeyman, Ryan. (2014). The B Corp Handbook, Barrett Koehler: San Francisco, CA.

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: