Berkeley, CA Economic Overview
The City of Berkeley is located in northern Alameda County, on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, just ten miles east of San Francisco. The city encompasses a total area of approximately 19 square miles and is home to a population of roughly 120,000, which is the highest population density of any city in the East Bay. Founded in 1864, the Berkeley is among the oldest cities in California. Named after the 18th-century Anglo-Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley, the City is defined culturally and economically by the oldest campus in the University of California system, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Berkeley is a small city with a big reputation, constantly changing and attracting visitors and businesses from around the world. Berkeley commercial real estate is uniquely situated in a globally recognized center for academic achievement, scientific exploration and the arts and accommodates over 15,290 companies. The City hosts a thriving environment for business startups in its Berkeley Startup Cluster, filled with start-up resources and office space for early stage businesses.
Home to the main campus of the University of California, Berkeley hosts over 38,000 students and 14,983 employees, spurring growth in the high technology and biotechnology sectors. Berkeley is the location of a number of prominent businesses, many of which are pioneers in private manufacturing, technology research, retail and service businesses, educational services, healthcare and social assistance, and consulting. Its largest employers include University of California, Berkley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. Close to three principal shipping ports, and with a transcontinental rail line running through city limits, Berkeley provides convenience for firms requiring transport of goods. A green-friendly city, it has become a magnet for green companies, expanding from ten green companies in 2000 to 170 in 2011. Berkeley has relatively few chain stores for a city of its size, due to policies and zoning that promote small businesses. Despite its large student population, Berkeley boasts an upper income population with an average household income of $100,496.
Berkeley, CA Commercial Real Estate Market
Known for political activism and community involvement, Berkeley has charming shopping areas, well-developed arts and entertainment programs, and more restaurants per capita than any other California city. Downtown Berkeley has a high concentration of commercial and retail space to lease, but commercial space can be found in every corner of the municipality. Downtown is close to the BART station for commuting convenience, as well as to the UC Berkeley campus. Another major commercial corridor is found in West Berkeley and Ocean View, with many retail and office options as well as live/work lofts. The "Gourmet Ghetto" can be found in North Berkeley, along with many restaurants and other food-related businesses. The city is start-up friendly, with several business incubators and development centers based here. Demand throughout the East Bay/Oakland office market has remained strong in recent quarters, although it has experienced a slight uptick in vacancy. The main submarket for office space in Berkeley is the downtown core, with additional submarkets in LeConte, Ocean View, Rockridge, South Berkeley, and West Berkeley.
The Berkeley office market offers a total 3.2 million square feet of office space, with another 325,000 square feet under construction in Berkeley Way West. The median rate is $45 per square foot per year, and the median size is just over 1,500 square feet.
Downtown Berkeley is a bright, professional environment at the center of Berkeley’s rich and vibrant culture. The Downtown Berkeley office market is surrounded by the city’s best restaurants and entertainment, all within walking distance, and just less than one mile away from the University of California, Berkeley. The last three months have seen a slight decrease in rates in this area.
Berkeley, CA Office Rental Rates ($/SF/year)
Data provided by Yardi Matrix, for properties larger than 50K SF.
Berkeley, CA Commercial Inventory Breakdown
Total: 2,373,888 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 1,060,832 SF / 44.69% of total office
- 100k to 500k SF: 1,313,056 SF / 55.31% of total office
- Class A: 964,584 SF / 40.63% of total office
- Class B: 1,081,647 SF / 45.56% of total office
- Class C: 327,657 SF / 13.8% of total office
Total: 2,246,700 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 685,979 SF / 30.53% of total industrial
- 100k to 500k SF: 981,359 SF / 43.68% of total industrial
- 500k to 1M SF: 579,362 SF / 25.79% of total industrial
- Class B: 2,031,784 SF / 90.43% of total industrial
- Class C: 214,916 SF / 9.57% of total industrial
Office Spaces with Retail
Total: 887,739 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 439,858 SF / 49.55% of total office with retail
- 100k to 500k SF: 447,881 SF / 50.45% of total office with retail
Employment in Berkeley, CA
Berkeley’s thriving economy provides jobs for 67,172 workers, up from 65,048 in June 2015, and boasts a low unemployment rate of 3.8%, compared to the county average of 4.7%. The most common jobs can be found in office/administrative support (15.7%), sales (10.4%), food preparation (9.2%), and transportation (6.9%). The highest paying jobs in the area include management, legal, and computer/mathematical, with mean hourly wages resting above the national averages.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries in the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA area with the highest employment numbers include:
- Trade, Transportation, and Utilities—currently employs 200,900, growing at 0.1%/year
- Education and Health Services—currently employs 190,100, growing at 3.1%/year
- Professional and Business Services—currently employs 185,500, growing at 3.2%/year
Education in Berkeley, CA
The City of Berkeley boasts one of the most educated communities in the country, with an educational attainment rate of 95.7% of high school diploma or higher, from which 68% of residents hold associates’ degree or higher. The City is served by the Berkeley Unified School District with 11 public elementary schools, three public middle schools, and two public high schools.
Berkeley is home to the main campus of University of California, Berkeley, a public research university founded in 1868 and often cited as one of the world’s leading research universities and the top public university in the U.S. The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) also ranks the University of California, Berkeley, third in the world overall, and first among public universities.
The Graduate Theological Union, a consortium of nine independent theological schools, is located a block north of the University of California Berkeley's main campus. The Graduate Theological Union has the largest number of students and faculty of any religious studies doctoral program in the United States. Berkeley also hosts Berkeley City College, a community college in the Peralta Community College District.
Commuting Time in Berkeley, CA
The Berkeley Public Works Transportation Division supports numerous commuter programs to assist Berkeley residents, students, and employees. These include:
- Commute programs such as the Guaranteed Ride Home Program and Transport Programs at UC Berkeley
- Services by Amtrak (Capitol Corridor), AC Transit, BART (Ashby, Downtown Berkeley Station and North Berkeley) and bus shuttles operated by major employers including UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
- Maintenance of the Eastshore Freeway (Interstate 80 and Interstate 580) runs along the bay shoreline, accommodating an influx of thousands of cars into the city by commuting UC faculty, staff and students.
- Upkeep of one of the highest rates of bicycle and pedestrian commuting in the nation. Berkeley maintains a separate grid of arterial streets for bicycles, called Bicycle Boulevards, with bike lanes and lower amounts of car traffic than the major streets they often parallel.
Berkeley is just 25 minutes from Oakland International Airport and 45 minutes from San Francisco International Airport.
Employees in Berkeley have a commute time that is approximately equal to the national average of 24.8 minutes. The largest share of workers drives alone, followed by those who use public transit and walk.
- Total Population120,926
- Male Population(49.2 %) 59,520
- Female Population(50.8 %) 61,406
- Median Age30.80
- Average Household Income$124,789
- Median Household Income$80,912
- Median Income Under 25$21,646
- Median Income 25-44$91,821
- Median Income 45-64$105,255
- Median Income Over 65$88,838
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