2023 News Releases

Silicon Valley unemployment rate increases slightly to 3.1%

cover imageSan Mateo County maintains lowest rate in California since February

April 26, 2023 – The unemployment rate in Silicon Valley increased slightly in March to 3.1%, following a similar increase of 0.1 percentage points from mid-January to mid-February 2023, according to analysis by Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies. The unemployment rate in the region remains the highest since January of 2022, when it sat at 3.2%. Overall employment in the region increased by nearly 9,600 workers, while the number of unemployed persons increased by almost 1,000.

The total labor force in Silicon Valley increased by more than 10,700 from mid-February to mid-March, the largest month-to-month increase since the period from June 2022 to July 2022, when it increased by 21,100 individuals. The total labor force in the region is at the highest level (1.52 million) since the previous high in February 2020 and now includes approximately 101,900 more individuals than the pandemic low of just under 1.42 million in April 2021.

Overall, employers added just under 7,700 workers between March 2022 and March 2023. The total number of unemployed workers in the region in mid-March was nearly 123,800 lower than the peak (170,000) in April 2020. Total employment in the region is up by 209,100 since April 2020, which reflected the initial job losses associated with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, job growth is +16.5% over the last 35 months. The unemployment rate in Silicon Valley in January was just over 0.6 percentage points higher than it was a year before (March 2022), and 8.8 percentage points lower than April 2020.

The analysis follows the April 21st release from the California Employment Development Department (EDD). National-level data for February was released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on April 7th.

Leisure and Hospitality jobs represented the greatest month-over-month increase in the greater Silicon Valley region (two metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs), outpacing Educational and Health Services. Restaurants added 3,400 jobs as part of the larger sector from mid-February to mid-March. Educational and Health Services increased by 3,000 (+0.8%) jobs from mid-February to mid-March. Government and Other Services also increased notably in the same period, adding 2,500 and 1,100 jobs respectively. Professional and Business Services experienced the largest job loss (-3,500, or -0.6%), with the largest decrease in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (-2,100, or -0.5%).

“The unemployment rate in Silicon Valley has increased steadily through the first three months of 2023, reversing the trend of declining unemployment rates that is more often the case during the first quarter in the region,” said Ryan Young, Research Manager for BW Research, and an affiliated researcher at the Institute. “Leisure and Hospitality was a bright spot for job growth over the one-month period, cutting the remaining job deficit from the onset of the pandemic by more than a third.”

Key findings:

  • Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points between mid-February and mid-March. In March, the combined unemployment rate for Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties was 3.1%, compared to 3.0% for San Francisco, 3.4% for the Bay Area, 4.8% statewide, and 3.6% nationwide.
  • As of mid-March, approximately 46,200 people in Silicon Valley’s labor force remained unemployed (12,700 in San Mateo County, and 33,500 in Santa Clara County), an increase of nearly 1,000 since mid-February, and an increase of more than 10,000 since March 2022.
  • The greater Silicon Valley employment levels between February and March (based on metro-area data, which includes San Francisco and San Benito Counties) increased most notably in Leisure and Hospitality (+6,300 jobs, or +2.9%), Educational and Health Services (+3,000, or +0.8%), Government (+2,500, or +1.1%), and Other Services (+1,100, or +1.8%). Professional and Business Services (-3,500, or -0.6%), Construction (-1,600, or -1.7%), and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (-1,100, or -0.4%) decreased total industry employment from mid-February to mid-March.
  • San Mateo maintains the lowest unemployment rate among California counties, unmoved since February, at 2.8% in March. San Francisco is second, increasing from 2.9% in February to a 3.0% unemployment rate in March. Marin County sits at third among California counties, with a 3.1% unemployment rate, which is also unchanged since February. Santa Clara slips to fourth among all counties in the state, moving from 3.1% in February to 3.2%.


Monthly Unemployment Rate chart

Monthly Unemployment Rate chart detail

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Data sources:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS); California Employment Development Department (EDD)


Silicon Valley includes Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties, unless otherwise noted. Monthly unemployment rates are calculated using employment and labor force data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Statistics (CPS) and the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS). Rates are not seasonally adjusted. County-level and California data February and March 2023 are preliminary, and county-level data for February are from the California Employment Development Department April 21, 2023, release.

For further reference

To access Silicon Valley’s online data hub, visit www.siliconvalleyindicators.org.

About the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies

The Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies is the research arm of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and is housed within the organization. The Institute provides research and analysis on a host of issues facing Silicon Valley’s economy and society. For more information, visit www.siliconvalleyindicators.org.

About Joint Venture Silicon Valley

Established in 1993, Joint Venture provides analysis and action on issues affecting the Silicon Valley economy and quality of life. The organization brings together established and emerging leaders—from business, government, academia, labor and the broader community—to spotlight issues, launch projects and work toward innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.jointventure.org.

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