When it comes to talking about the local economy, the Bay Area has been stuck on an old image: We are a bubble inflating to the point of popping.

But that bubble metaphor hasnt fit for a long time.

After five years of tech-driven economic growth, there is a new reality in the Bay Area. The region has become a successful mega city, the global capital of tech, media and innovation.

Instead of a bubble dangerously and rapidly inflating, think of whats been happening to the regional economy like the sea rising steadily as it approaches a new high water mark.

More growth is expected even as the pace levels off. In any one quarter, job creation and corporate revenue will ebb and flow. But the landscape here has been altered.