“San Francisco’s job market is weakening, being buoyed by ongoing strength in the tourism industry, according to The City’s monthly economic barometer.”
“The monthly economic report also states that The City’s retail sector may be “cooling after several years of rapid growth.” The report points to a “significantly lower” number of cars parking at garages around Union Square compared to last year without a commensurate increase in transit ridership.”
San Francisco’s job market losing steam [Examiner]
Recap: What’s The Scoop On Foreign Investment In San Francisco? [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by San FronziScheme

    The dollar has been getting stronger and stronger for a few months and that helped SF tourism and business. One Euro used to buy 1.60 greenbacks just 3 months ago.
    It’s only 1.42 today and sinking as Euro economies start heading south and the theoretical economical disconnect is proven wrong.
    European tourists still have it good for a while in SF compared to 2000-2002 when Euro was under $1, but watch out for the broad effects of large currency moves next season.

  2. Posted by diemos

    In honor of our dearly departed fluj I will admit that I hear a lot of French these days when I’m walking around the city.
    (fluj! Come back! fluuuuuuj!)

  3. Posted by scurvy

    Like San FronziScheme mentioned, the dollar has reversed its course and has been strengthening since early July when the ECB hinted at rate cuts instead of hikes.
    Of course, currency moves don’t happen overnight and the dollar’s rebound is not guaranteed. However, it looks like we’re all in this together now and most investors would rather park their dough in USD than Euros.

  4. Posted by anon942123

    On a recent trip to Manhattan, I felt like I was in Europe! Barneys was awash in Euro-shoppers and Soho felt like an outpost of Berlin. The intereting thing to notice is where the Europeans were NOT seen, which was my hotel (The Four Seasons), or at upscale restaurants.

  5. Posted by San FronziScheme

    The intereting thing to notice is where the Europeans were NOT seen, which was my hotel (The Four Seasons), or at upscale restaurants.
    Very true. Europeans tend to try and make their Euros last longer. Everyone can understand that. Europeans have 5+ weeks a year of vacation and NY vacations are just a small part of their travel, as a long week end outside of the longer stays.
    Even with a high Euro they cannot always afford $700+/night for 5-6 weeks all the time.
    Some friends in Europe have 6-7 weeks of vacation a year and do at least one 4-week long distance trip in the summer and a shorter one out of season.
    Americans tend to spend more as vacation time is precious and you want to enjoy it to the fullest.

  6. Posted by REpornaddict

    OK I am sliding off topic here, but as a foreigner does anyone know why Americans have less vacation time than Europe? I know in the UK 5 weeks was typical, but that even more (6+?) was typical in France, germany etc.
    Does it just reflect the money/leisure utility curve of Americans, or are there deeper and more institutional forces at work? I am finding 15 days of vacation a bit of a culture shock and would gladly give up two weeks of pay for two more more weeks – but it’s not an option. But do Americans feel the same way?
    But yes San Fronzi, you are spot on with your points. Also I think (with sweeping generalisation!) Europeans are not as concerned with living the upscale hotel/restaurant lifestyle as Americans.

  7. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “does anyone know why Americans have less vacation time than Europe?”
    There are strong trade unions even for the white collar workforce.
    Imagine if the engineers and scientists at Pfizer, Google, Intel, Yahoo, HP, etc. were represented by unions to negotiate salaries and benefits.
    Unions probably are not the sole reason, but you can bet that they make it really hard for one employer to adopt the American 2 week vacation model.

  8. Posted by spencer

    “does anyone know why Americans have less vacation time than Europe?”
    we love to woork and hate vacation. more work please

  9. Posted by yao

    is it really only 2 weeks in america? i have/am currently working at 2 of the 5 companies The Milkshake of Despair listed and both offered 3 weeks of vacation right off the bat, increasing to 4/5 after X/Y years of experience.
    i wish i had 5 or 6 weeks of vacation.

  10. Posted by curmudgeon

    I’ve always acted as if I were European, but I’ve been lucky…I’ve been able to negotiate time off without pay. Can’t live on two weeks per year. It is CRAZY.
    In this country, the only people who travel in numbers are retirees…and by then many of them have become unadventurous and stick to RVing around the states. It’s sad.
    It’s not just trade unions. It’s good old protestant work ethic. Work is good for the soul! And the lack of a safety net keeps us all working and scared to do anything else.
    Not being a super high earner, I’ve never understood why anyone aside from an expense account business person would spend oodles of money in hotels. It’s a bed for god sakes…with nice sheets and a flat screen TV, but big F#$@# deal. It is a HUGE part of any trip cost when you start figuring in $500/night. Short term rentals, apartment exhchanges, even staying with friends makes it all more affordable to really trave. In Europe, there are typically decent midrange hotels in city centers that ARE quite affordable. For some reason in this country it’s either expensive or stay at a motel 6 on the highway outside of town.

  11. Posted by Satchel

    “OK I am sliding off topic here, but as a foreigner does anyone know why Americans have less vacation time than Europe? …are there deeper and more institutional forces at work?”
    Puritan Work Ethic. It all started with William Bradford, the “Puritan of Plymouth” IMO.
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3507051.html

  12. Posted by ex SF-er

    “does anyone know why Americans have less vacation time than Europe?”
    often it is mandatory laws.
    France has a mandatory MINIMUM of 30 days vacation per year. To my knowledge, all western European nations have at least 20 MINIMUM days of vacation per year.
    many countries also have MAXIMUM hours per week. (In france, no more than 35hrs/week by law).

    part of this is due to culture. part of it is due to the high amount of unemployment those countries have historically had. thus, the socialist govts felt it was better if everybody worked most of the time to give more people a chance at employment. Obviously, there are strong arguments for whether or not that works.

  13. Posted by iwantitall

    “does anyone know why Americans have less vacation time than Europe?”
    I think it comes from our Puritan work ethics that’s deeply ingrained in our culture from our founding fathers.
    With the exception of Germany, is it any wonder that countries such as Spain, France, etc. that mandate 6 week vacations are not economic superpowers?
    That said, I, as an American, would relish longer vacations, even if it meant less pay and lowering my standard of living to do so – - but like REPornadict, that’s not an option at my company.
    One colleague of mine, who, over the years managed to accumulate 3 weeks of vacation (by not taking any vacation for a full year and a half). And, when she had the “gull” to actually take all 3 weeks off at once, there were lots of raised eyebrows – even though she earned those 3 weeks. The American companies’ attitude (in general) toward vacations is just not healthy IMO.

  14. It’s not just our vacation time that is woefully short. (While 15 days is increasingly standard in the Bay Area, in most parts of the country, it’s still only 10 days.) Our maternity leave policies are shockingly bad despite all this talk of “family values”. Most countries offer at least three months of paid maternity leave and some in Northern Europe offer as much as a year. The policies (or lack thereof) in the US are akin to those in several undeveloped African nations, such as Swaziland. Seriously.
    To state the obvious, work-life balance isn’t ingrained in American culture.

  15. Posted by REpornaddict

    With the exception of Germany, is it any wonder that countries such as Spain, France, etc. that mandate 6 week vacations are not economic superpowers?
    well, Spain and France may notbe superpowers, but I don’t think they are economic slouches either. having spent considerable time in Both these countries have what I would call a good standard of living – and I believe a higher quality of life than either the US or UK.

  16. Posted by ex SF-er

    With the exception of Germany, is it any wonder that countries such as Spain, France, etc. that mandate 6 week vacations are not economic superpowers?
    I agree with this. but remember not everybody wants to be an economic superpower.
    The French in general are quite happy with their 35 hour work week and 6 weeks of vacation (not including holidays) and 16 weeks of MANDATORY fully paid maternity leave (6 weeks prior, 10 weeks post deliver). Not to mention up to 3 years of partial pay for staying at home with your children, and then cheap daycare after that.
    Or “familial allocations” which is basically a payment everybody gets just for having more than one child.
    it is a business nightmare. French Families love it. but it’s not compatable with being an economic superpower. The French have chosen family over superpower. we have chosen the opposite.
    both systems have extreme benefits and extreme problems.

  17. Posted by San FronziScheme

    If everyone wants to have a good (nervous) laugh at French benefits, look at Brangelina’s potential windfall:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=7&entry_id=29454
    Insane.
    And to go back to “superpower” status, France is smallish, 5 times less populated than us and doesn’t have the economical critical mass of other heavyweights (China, US, Japan). Same thing goes for Britain which has almost the same GDP, by the way.
    But GDP per capita in all Western European countries is similar to the US, especially with the high Euro (nice way to go back to topic).

  18. Posted by asiagoSF

    “does anyone know why Americans have less vacation time than Europe?”
    There’s no single and un-controversial answer to this question, even though some posts have come pretty close to a plausible mix of explanations.
    As a European-born and educated naturalized American of 15 years, let me share my 2 cents.
    If I were to summarize in a sentence, it would be “Europeans work to live and Americans live to work”. Simplistic as it sounds, this captures the fact that here in the US (especially in SF, and very relevant to this site!) we don’t think twice about committing the large part of 30 years of future earnings to secure a nice home and then proceed to sub-zero it to the gills. Mind you, it is not capitalism or greed. In Europe people want to make money as bad as we do here, but the way they choose to spend it requires a longer absence from work, hence the different balance work/life.
    For the same reason, you won’t find a double-wide fridge in a Parisian middle-class family apartment. They would rather live within their means as far as material possessions and then spend the rest on personal enrichment, mostly travel and food.
    Another cause is the more benign disposition toward socialist institutions, such as almost-free higher education, national health care, and guaranteed benefit retirement. These 3 things alone allow the typical European to sleep well at night, without having to worry about the big uncertainties in life (the type of events that can wreak financial ruin overnight onto a middle-class family here in the US and for which we have to build a rainy day cushion). Once you remove to a large extent the need to cover for those needs , why work yourself silly just to accumulate wealth for its own sake?
    There’s also a geographical factor: Europe is just an easier region where to enjoy travel. Five years ago I took a sabbatical and toured central Europe with my wife in a small Fiat (by the way, averaging 50mpg!). In a matter of a few weeks we touched 5 or 6 countries. The same amount of miles would have put me barely from Chicago to SF and back, definitely a less exciting road-trip.
    Form our perspective, if travel is less attractive to begin with, why request and use much time off to enjoy it? Foreign travel is still a possibility for us Americans, but the financial and logistic barriers are much higher here.
    Lastly, I would not discount a previous poster’s explanation of Puritan work ethic, even though I would credit more its indirect consequence than the main factor itself. Here’s what I mean: the individualistic philosophy that we are losers unless we make it with our own strength leads to a higher willingness to work our behind off to establish our economic independence and self-reliance.
    And I almost forgot my favorite catch-all: we work so much because… we don’t have bidets!

  19. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Even with their much higher tax rate, which supposedly should quash economic growth, median per capita GDP in Europe has equaled American growth over any period post-WWII you care to measure and has outpaced us the last decade.
    The top 1% does much better here though.

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