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A Message About the 2021 Silicon Valley Poll

Dear Friends:

The 2021 Silicon Valley poll—our first—finds us in a dark mood.

We’ve long been a high-stress region. Staggering housing prices, rising homelessness, a stark income divide and a host of sustainability challenges have had us on edge for some time. But when you toss a highly infectious disease into the mix you get a smothering amount of anxiety: 60 percent of respondents say their lives have become more stressful since the pandemic set in; 52 percent feel more isolated and alone, and 66 percent are genuinely worried about the future.

It’s important to note these feelings go beyond the pandemic itself. High percentages of us are concerned about wildfires, drought and political polarization. 71 percent feel that the quality of life in Silicon Valley has grown worse over the past five years. We’re split (48 to 52) on whether the Bay Area is headed in the right direction.

On this basis, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that 56 percent of us are mulling plans to leave the region, a higher percentage than any previous polling we’ve seen. Even our tech workforce (53 percent) is wondering if the grass is greener someplace else.

Are there any bright spots? Most definitely. Though it may seem contradictory, 65 percent of respondents say they feel a strong sense of belonging to the Bay Area—even more than they feel (58 percent) for their neighborhood and their city (63 percent). Large percentages (66 percent) approve of how our employers have responded to the pandemic. It’s also telling that those who have the luxury of working from home have come to feel differently about work-life balance.

Since 1995 our organization has been carefully publishing baseline metrics in the Silicon Valley Index. To this we now add the Silicon Valley Poll as part of our annual rhythm—the Index reports the facts and the Poll reports how we’re feeling. Sometimes our feelings will align with the facts; we may just as often find them at odds. In either case, the Poll is our acknowledgment that perception is also a form of reality. We’re pleased to present it in partnership with Bay Area News Group, and with Change Research bringing new field capabilities to our Institute.

The report you hold in your hands presents the top-line results. The myriad details—crosstabs, stratifications—are available at our online repository, www.siliconvalleyindicators.org.

Yours,

Russell Hancock

Russell Hancock
President & Chief Executive Officer
Joint Venture Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies

About Joint Venture

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.