Data Tracker

Want to exit California? Be sure to take San Jose with you

An undercurrent of interest in dividing California isn’t subsiding, even though the proposal for a Northern California state of Jefferson hasn’t gone anywhere.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper tried to qualify a November 2016 initiative to create what he called ‘Six Californias,’ an effort that didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures.

Now he says he is still contemplating other ways to reorganize the Golden State geographically or otherwise, consulting with Brexit mastermind Nigel Farage.

A look at the value of goods and services produced in California by metropolitan area offers some food for thought, and perhaps a cautionary tale, for those trying to slice up the state.

Comparing California regional economic output by MSA map 

California has the highest gross domestic product in the U.S., and among the world’s largest, but major regional disparities in economic well-being underscore how difficult it would be to distribute the wealth evenly.

The Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas ranked among the top-10 nationwide in GDP in 2015, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. A quartet of other metropolitan areas in California – San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, San Diego, Riverside-San Bernardino and Sacramento – rank among the top-50 in GDP nationwide.

In per capita GDP, the San Jose area leads the state at $112,851, almost double the state average, and second-highest nationwide. San Francisco’s per capita GDP of more than $81,000 ranks fourth in the U.S.

Other, further inland parts of California have a much different existence.

The Madera area ranked 312th in GDP out of 382 metropolitan areas nationwide, just above Lawton, Okla., after its GDP shrank 2.1 percent in 2015.

Gross domestic product rankings of metropolitan areas 

In Bakersfield, GDP fell by 6.6 percent in 2015, the most of any metropolitan area in California and among the largest declines nationwide, because of the drop in oil prices.

The disparities in California’s economy also have implications for state government’s bottom line.

In November, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that the Bay Area has about 17 percent of the state’s population but generated 37 percent of the state’s income tax revenue in the 2014 tax year. Those kinds of numbers come with a downside, the office noted.

“Boom times in the Bay Area tend to mean the statewide economy and the state budget are doing well,” the analyst’s office said. “Economic weakness there hinders the economy and can throw the state budget into a tailspin.”

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