A Message About the 2022 Index
As the pandemic stretches on, Silicon Valley files a report card showcasing our fabled dynamism while at the same time exposing a whopping set of fallibilities.
The dynamism is by now the stuff of legend, and the virus only amplified it. That’s because our tech companies provide the platforms, communications tools, networks, devices, and the architecture that are essential to 21st century life in a pandemic. Delivering all of that to a hungry marketplace drove employment growth and fueled the sector to an eye-popping $14 trillion market cap.
Meanwhile venture capital hit new milestones, start-up activity was happily frenzied, and there were more IPOs (32) than any other year this century. Private companies valued above $1 billion became so commonplace that it’s fair to say the term used to describe them (“unicorns”) is no longer apt.
It’s fairly staggering, and it’s a thing to celebrate. Any other region surely would.
And yet people living in Silicon Valley feel tenuous, if not despairing. A host of factors are in play but the most damning are the region’s health and wealth disparities, which are persistently stratified by race and ethnicity. The pandemic has amplified this too, laying bare the injustices of our society.
In this report you will learn that our Hispanic residents — who are more likely to have jobs that can’t be done remotely and may not offer sick leave — are two and a half times more likely as White non-Hispanic residents to be hospitalized with COVID-19. They are three times as likely to die from it. You will also see that pandemic-related job losses fell disproportionately by race and ethnicity, and that the poverty rates for African Americans are double that of Asian or White residents.
Education has long been held up as the best hope for equalizing our Valley. Astonishingly, this year’s Index shows Hispanic or Latino workers make an average wage that is 64 percent less than similarly-educated White residents; for our Black or African American workers, it is 50 percent less.
Is tech a pathway to equity? Certainly not yet. White (non-Hispanic or Latino) workers make up 30 percent of the total civilian workforce, but in tech they account for 60 percent of the leadership roles and more than 40 percent of the technical roles. Hispanic or Latino workers account for 24 percent of the total workforce, but they represent only eight percent of employees at Silicon Valley’s 20 largest tech companies.
It’s sobering to realize we live in a society where the top 25 percent of earners hold 92 percent of the wealth. If Silicon Valley were a country, the experts would rate it dangerously unstable.
As we emerge from the pandemic we have a jarring set of contradictions to be grappling with. Having the data in hand will be crucial to the choices ahead. We’re pleased to provide it.