Bay Area loses jobs, regional economy may be losing steam

Job losses jolted the Bay Area during March, and a review of how the region’s employment market is doing in 2018 suggests the area economy has lost some steam so far this year, an unsettling assessment that emerged from state labor statistics released on Friday.

The Bay Area lost 2,300 jobs in March, a downturn that spread to Santa Clara County, which shed 1,200 positions and the East Bay, which lost 700 jobs, the state Employment Development Department reported. The San Francisco-San Mateo region also was weak, gaining a paltry 100 positions. All the numbers were adjusted for seasonal variations.

Over the one-year period that ended in March, Santa Clara County’s job market was the strongest among the nine-county region’s three major urban centers.

During those 12 months, Santa Clara County experienced a 2.6 percent increase in its total jobs, while the increase in job counts was 1.7 percent in the East Bay and 1.6 percent in the San Francisco-San Mateo region. The Bay Area job market grew 1.8 percent during the one-year period that ended in March.

Nevertheless, the pace of job gains so far in 2018 is considerably weaker than what occurred over a similar period in 2017, this news organization’s analysis of the state employment figures shows.

During the first three months of 2018, the Bay Area averaged a gain of roughly 5,700 jobs a month, down from an average of 8,100 jobs a month over the same three months in 2017.

The East Bay averaged gains of 2,500 a month so far this year, compared with an average of 3,200 a month in the first three months of last year. Santa Clara County has averaged a gain of 1,700 jobs for the first three months of this year, below the average of 1,800 jobs a month over the first three months of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Public trust in Facebook nosedives after Cambridge Analytical scandal: survey

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A large swath of Americans believed in Facebook as the unassuming social network, connecting friends and family on the internet while protecting their privacy.

That belief has been shattered thanks to Facebook’s entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, according to one research survey released earlier this week.

The most recent research survey from Ponemon Institute — a Michigan-based research group which surveys Americans’ opinions on privacy, data protection and information security policy — found that only 27 percent of Americans now believe Facebook is committed to protecting the privacy of their personal information following the Cambridge Analytica revelations.

The 27 percent figure was 52 percentage points lower than the same survey in 2017. Ponemon Institute’s study has surveyed the same question since 2011 and that inaugural year had the highest percentage of trust in the company at 67 percent.

“We found that people care deeply about their privacy and when there is a mega data breach, as in the case of Facebook, people will express their concern,” said the institute’s chairman Larry Ponemon to NBC News. “And some people will actually vote with their feet and leave.”

Facebook has been dealing with major blowback since it was revealed last month that the British political data firm Cambridge Analytica improperly collected up to 87 million Facebook users’ data without their permission and used it for political campaigns, such as Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Due to the major backlash, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate last week to explain the company’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica and its general data privacy practices, among other things.

Zuckerberg’s testimonies did not sway many Americans, according to Ponemon Institute’s survey. After hearing the testimony, those who believed in Facebook’s commitment to protecting user privacy rose only from 27 percent to 28 percent.

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Sand Hill sells Macy’s to lead developer of downtown Sunnyvale project

CityLine, the lead developer of a project aimed at revitalizing downtown Sunnyvale, has closed escrow on the purchase of Macy’s two-story building from Sand Hill Property Co., a move that solidifies its control of the 36-acre project.

Sunnyvale Councilman Jim Griffith said that under existing agreements, the owner of the Macy’s property has certain veto rights over development plans in downtown.

Deke Hunter, co-owner of CityLine, said conversations with Sand Hill about transferring ownership of the Macy’s started six months ago. CityLine’s acquisition of Macy’s will considerably ease the approval process for the next stages of the project, he said.

“We came to a similar conclusion that having too many property owners could be cumbersome,” he said. “By having control of the Macy’s as part of our project, it adds certainty that the final plan gets built.”

Sand Hill had planned to remodel the building and add office space on the ground floor instead of reserving it for just retail. Hunter suggested Macy’s future after its lease ends is “very uncertain.”

After numerous starts and stops over the past decade, the project was given new life two years ago when CityLine assumed ownership. Formerly known as the Sunnyvale Town Center and renamed CityLine Sunnyvale, the developer’s plans call for establishing a six-block, mixed-use development that includes retail, dining and entertainment.

Last year, Redwood Square, a public space bedecked with redwood trees, walking paths and benches, including a solar-powered bench, opened across from McKinley Avenue and Target. The focus this year will be on starting construction on three residential buildings, including 75 studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments and 19 three-bedroom townhomes along West Iowa Avenue between Mathilda and Sunnyvale avenues.

Once completed by summer 2019, the site will also feature a Whole Foods Market and AMC Theatres.

The news about CityLine’s purchase was received favorably by city officials …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


A California ballot fight over rent control is on, supporters say

SACRAMENTO — A renters’ revolt in California could be heading to the November ballot as a campaign to lift decades-old restrictions on rent control reported Friday it had gathered more than enough signatures to qualify.

Organizers are planning rallies in Sacramento, Oakland and Los Angeles on Monday as they hand in the signatures, which must be counted and verified by election officials before the initiative makes it on the ballot.

“Thousands of people are being forced out of their homes and the neighborhoods they grew up in, commuting hours to and from work, or literally living on the streets,” says a media advisory from the campaign. “Hard-working people can’t afford a decent place to live. California can do better, and we need immediate change to stop this wave of displacement to keep people in their homes.”

Propelled by the pain of sharply rising rents, the initiative, if it qualifies, is sure to set the stage for an expensive clash between renters and the trade association representing landlords, which wrote the state law that renters are trying to repeal. The law, known as Costa Hawkins, makes it illegal for cities to apply rent caps to any properties built after 1995, when it was passed — or earlier. If a city adopted rent control in 1980, as Oakland and Berkeley did, everything built afterward is exempt from rent control.

The law also bars cities from passing rent-control ordinances on rented condominiums or single-family homes, or from adopting a policy known as “vacancy control” — limiting the increases that landlords can charge to new renters.

Tenants’ rights advocates and community groups initially lobbied state lawmakers to repeal Costa Hawkins, but a bill to do so failed to pass its first committee hearing in January.

At the hearing, which drew more than 1,000 people on both sides …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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