Survey says: 34 percent of Bay Area residents are ready to leave

Bay Area residents are ready to move out
Bay Area residents are ready to move out

Residents of the California's Bay Area are eyeing the exits.

Some 34 percent of San Francisco-area residents are considering leaving because of high housing costs and traffic, according to a survey by the Bay Area Council.

"We can whine about this, or we can win by solving our traffic and housing problems," Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, told The Mercury News. "The last time the Bay Area had seemingly solved its traffic problems was the worldwide recession of 2008. A recession is not how we want to solve our traffic and housing problems."

People who have lived in the area for five years or less are those most likely to start packing their bags, according to the report. San Franciscans with lower income and those putting more of their income toward housing expenses were also listed among those prepared to leave.

Residents noted that the most serious problems facing the Bay Area included high cost of living, poverty and income inequality, crime rates and homelessness.

The biggest concern for the Bay Area is the potential loss of its young labor force, though.

"These younger folks, millennials, are our future workforce; this is our labor market; this is our talent pool," Rufus Jeffris, vice president of communications for the Bay Area Council, told CNBC. "So, our economy is fueled by our talent and when folks are saying that they are going to leave, that can create a real problem for us in terms of attracting and retaining the workers and talent that we need to succeed."

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"This is our canary in a coal mine," said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council, in a statement. "Residents are screaming for solutions. Do we expect to see more than 2 million residents up and leave? Of course not. But losing even a fraction of that number and the talent they represent because we failed to deal with our most pressing issues would be very bad."

Some 54 percent of the local population said they would remain in the area.

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The survey, which collected results from about 1,000 residents in the area, also revealed that citizens in the San Francisco Bay are split when it comes to how they think the region is faring. About 40 percent of respondents said that the Bay Area was on the right track, while 40 percent said it was on the wrong track.

"The economic divide in the Bay Area is real," Russell Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, told The Mercury News. "We will lose low-income earners, and they will be replaced by high earners. We are losing the middle class as well."

Read the full report from The Mercury News.