Northern California Megaregion
Northern California: Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. Spanning the state’s northernmost 48 counties, its main population centers include the San Francisco Bay Area (anchored by the cities of San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland), the Greater Sacramento area (anchored by the state capital Sacramento), and the Metropolitan Fresno area (anchored by the city of Fresno). Northern California also contains redwood forests, along with the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite Valley and part of Lake Tahoe, Mount Shasta (the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range after Mount Rainier in Washington), and most of the Central Valley, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions.
The 48-county definition is not used for the Northern California Megaregion, one of the 11 megaregions of the United States. The megaregion’s area is instead defined from Metropolitan Fresno north to Greater Sacramento, and from the Bay Area east across Nevada state line to encompass the entire Lake Tahoe-Reno area.
Northern California Fires
Potential exists for greater interconnectedness of the economic engines of the Northern California Megaregion. New technologies have permeated industries such as food production, healthcare, and logistics, revolutionizing the way business is conducted and creating new types of companies, jobs, and economic opportunities for the entire megaregion in the process.
The megaregion’s diverse set of universities, national laboratories, research institutions, entrepreneurs, and large and small businesses provides the foundation for a robust innovation system—arguably, the most dynamic in the entire world. Universities within the megaregion received over $3.7 billion in 2014 for research and development, and they are increasingly partnering with the business to commercialize these efforts. The megaregion’s four national laboratories also provide thousands of direct jobs and are key cogs in the innovation environment.
Since 1990, the Sacramento Area has had the greatest increase of workers in the high-tech sector (on a percentage basis) of any California region, as the region’s economy transformed from one rooted in agriculture to a much more diverse structure. Even with this growth, high-tech sectors make up only 6.7% of total Sacramento Area employment, below the average for the state.
By contrast, 19.1% of Bay Area workers were employed in high-tech sectors in 2014, and their numbers totaled over 685,000. High-tech employment in the Bay Area has grown by 18.7% (or over 108,000 jobs) since 2007, giving it the biggest percentage increase of high-tech employment of any California region.
Educational attainment levels continue to be an issue that prevents companies from expanding across all parts of the Northern California Megaregion. In 2014, 70% of the Bay Area workforce had obtained some type of post-high school education. Conversely, this number is only 51% in the Monterey Bay Area and 49% in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
Fires In Northern California
Housing affordability issues in the Bay Area have been one cause of the population influx in the inland portions of the megaregion. With a median home value of nearly $750,000 in 2015, Bay Area home prices are three times higher than the median price in nearby Northern San Joaquin Valley.
Divergence in housing affordability has become more pronounced following the recession:
- Only three metropolitan areas within the megaregion have 2015 median home prices above their 2006 levels: San Francisco (up 49.1% since 2006), San Jose (up 17.9%), and Santa Cruz (up 6.3%).
- Inland areas of the Northern California Megaregion have experienced home price movements in the opposite direction. The largest price declines since 2006 have occurred in Merced (down 48.4%), Stockton (down 36.3%), and Vallejo (down 32.5%). Between 2004 and 2014, the Bay Area has experienced a total net migration loss of 143,500 people to other areas of the megaregion. The populations of the Northern San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento Area, in particular, have been impacted by this population shift over the last decade. The interconnectedness of the megaregion’s labor market presents challenges to the environment and opportunities for improved transportation connections. While the megaregional workforce has increased by 17% between 1990 and 2013, commuters crossing regional boundaries have grown by 78%. Of all 191,500 commuters crossing regional boundaries in 2013, 68.7% were commuting into the Bay Area for work.The growth of Northern San Joaquin Valley commuters to the Bay Area has been particularly dramatic, more than doubling from 1990 to 2013 and now comprising 15.8% of the Northern San Joaquin Valley’s resident workforce.
The longest commutes in the megaregion originate in cities such as Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Tracy, and Lathrop. Additionally, San Joaquin County places in the top 10 nationally for its percentage of residents with a commute over 90 minutes long.
Northern California Coast
Northern California is not a formal geographic designation. California’s north-south midway division is around 37° latitude, near the level of San Francisco. Popularly, though, “Northern California” usually refers to the state’s northernmost 48 counties. Because of California’s large size and diverse geography, the state can be subdivided in other ways as well. For example, the Central Valley is a region that is distinct both culturally and topographically from coastal California, though in northern versus southern California divisions, the Sacramento Valley and most of the San Joaquin Valley are usually placed in northern California.
The state is often considered as having an additional division north of the urban areas of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento metropolitan areas. Extreme northern residents have felt under-represented in state government and in 1941 attempted to form a new state with southwestern Oregon to be called Jefferson, or more recently to introduce legislation to split California into two or three states. The coastal area north of the Bay Area is referred to as the North Coast, while the interior region north of Sacramento is referred by locals as the Northstate.
Northern California was used for the name of a proposed new state on the 2018 California ballot created by splitting the existing state into three parts.
Things To Do In Northern California
Since the events of the California Gold Rush, Northern California has been a leader in the world’s economic, scientific, and cultural stages. From the development of gold mining techniques and logging practices in the 19th century that were later adopted around the world, to the development of world-famous and online business models (such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Yahoo!, and eBay), northern California has been at the forefront of new ways of doing business.
Each of the megaregional transit lines—Altamont Corridor Express (ACE), Capitol Corridor, and the San Joaquin—carries more than 1 million passengers annually, and ridership growth is especially strong on the routes serving the Northern San Joaquin Valley. All three of the systems also have ambitious plans to drive further ridership increases, and the future California High-Speed Rail will bring even more passengers into these systems.
In science, advances range from being the first to isolate and name fourteen transuranic chemical elements, to breakthroughs in microchip technology. Cultural contributions include the works of Ansel Adams, George Lucas, and Clint Eastwood, as well as beatniks, the Summer of Love, winemaking, the cradle of the international environmental movement, and the open, casual workplace first popularized in the Silicon Valley dot-com boom and now widely in use around the world. Other examples of innovation across diverse fields range from Genentech (development and commercialization of genetic engineering) to CrossFit as a pioneer in extreme human fitness and training. It is also home to one of the largest Air Force Bases on the West Coast, and the largest of California, Travis Air Force Base.
What’s considered Northern California?
Northern California’s largest metropolitan area is the San Francisco Bay Area which consists of 9 counties; Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties.