Silicon Valley unemployment drops, on par with rates before pandemic

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In Silicon Valley, the employment rate is now on par with mid-March 2020, just prior to the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders.

According to a recent analysis by Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies, Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate has dropped to 2.9%.

The analysis follows the Jan. 21 release from the California Employment Development Department (EDD).

14.6% job growth in Silicon Valley

Employers throughout the region added more than 10,300 workers between mid-November and mid-December, lower than the job gains over the previous month-long period.

The total number of unemployment in the region dropped to 42,600 by mid-December, a decrease of nearly 3,900 since mid-November.

According to the analysis, Silicon Valley has recovered more than 184,000 jobs since April 2020 (a 14.6% job growth).


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Courtesy: Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

Job growth by industry

In the greater Silicon Valley, the trade, transportation, and utilities jobs represented the greatest month-over-month growth in December.

The retail trade industry added 2,000 jobs as part of the larger sector from mid-November to mid-December — the analysis said it’s most likely due to staffing for the holiday season.

Followed by the transportation and warehousing industry, adding 1,700 jobs.

Since March 2020 — professional and business services, computer systems, design, and related services saw steady growth according to analysis, adding 10,400 jobs.


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Hospitality added 3,300 jobs from mid-November to mid-December, with restaurants accounting for 1,800 of those jobs.

“The unemployment rate was cut in half in Silicon Valley between January and December 2021, returning to the March 2020 level 21 months into the pandemic,” said Ryan Young, Research Manager for BW Research and an affiliated researcher at the Institute.

“Despite positive news related to the unemployment rate, the economic landscape continues to evolve in differing directions, with industries such as Professional and Business Services and Information undergoing strong employment growth, while others such and Leisure and Hospitality continue to sit far below pre-pandemic levels.”

Other key findings

Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate decreased by nearly 0.3 percentage points between November and December, following a 0.5 percentage point decrease over the prior one-month period.

In November, the combined unemployment rate for Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties was 2.9%, compared to 3.0% for San Francisco, 3.4% for the Bay Area, 5.0% statewide, and 3.7% nationwide.

The greater Silicon Valley employment levels between November and December grew most notably in trade, transportation, and utilities (+4,500 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+3,300 jobs), professional and business services (+3,000 jobs), and information (+2,100 jobs).

Additionally, the manufacturing industry added 1,200 jobs and now represents 1.3% growth since March 2020.

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