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Economists: Bay Area Nears Full Employment, Housing Market May Get Even Tougher

(KPIX 5) -- Economists at UCLA said the Bay Area unemployment rate could fall below five percent, which they consider "full employment," sometime in 2016. While employment is high, things could become even tougher for those in the market to rent or buy a place to live.

Jennifer Halas and her husband work in the Bay Area, but say they just can't live here.

"We own and we commute far away to Palo Alto because we can't afford. We'll never be able to afford to buy here," Halas said.

Home and rental prices may go up even higher, as the Bay Area approaches full employment.

"We have a very hot economy," said Stephen Levy of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

The economist explains more jobs means more people moving to the Bay Area, which leads to more traffic and higher rents, because there's not enough housing.

"It's good news on the job and wage front for everybody. The problem is that unless you make a really, a lot of money your rent or home prices are far outpacing the gains that you're getting in income," Levy said.

The UCLA prediction of full employment also means a boom in jobs not only in the tech industry.

"More jobs in restaurants and more jobs in shops and more jobs for service people because the tech folks have income to spend," Levy said. "Construction is roaring back and in fact we're facing a shortage of skilled workers."

For many like Halas, it just means, renting or buying in the Bay Area, will be even more impossible.

"Unless you make the big bucks, which we don't," Halas said.

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