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February 07, 2013

Silicon Valley's Employment Has Reached Dot Com Boom Levels

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

We all know the economy is still slow, the recovery is moving at a snail’s pace and unemployment is still high. But is it high everywhere? Across most industries?

Absolutely not, and new data shows that one particular area is booming. The 2013 Silicon Valley Index, an annual study produced by San Jose-based Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Mountain View-based Silicon Valley Community Foundation, found that job growth in that region’s tech industry is actually at levels seen only during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.

“Employment growth in Silicon Valley is impressive, very impressive," Russell Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, told Mercury News. "Some might even say the job growth is cause for euphoria." (Presumably this group includes Silicon Valley tech workers.)

The study found that last year, California’s Bay Area added about 92,000 jobs. Of that total, Silicon Valley, defined as Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, accounted for 46 percent, or 42,000 jobs. Santa Clara County is now seeing job totals above those of the dot-com boom.

It’s not only the tech industry that’s showing growth, however, though it may be the catalyst that is seeing rising jobs in construction, real estate and retail. The study also found that the traditional geographic delineation of Silicon Valley is expanding, and now includes San Francisco itself.

"We have two very dynamic entities, San Jose and San Francisco," said Doug Henton, CEO at San Mateo-based Collaborative Economics, which did the primary research for the Silicon Valley Index. "They are very complementary to each other."

The study found that the boom hasn’t benefited everyone, though, and it may be increasing the wage gap between certain groups. While the income of white and Asian residents has been on the rise, wages for African-American and Latino residents has remained stagnant.

Edited by Braden Becker
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