A Message about the 2023 Index
Silicon Valley is in flux.
For one thing, people are leaving. 91,000 people departed over the past two years (the highest number on record since the dot.com bust) and there is no longer a significant influx of people from other places. And yet the economy is at full employment, growing even despite a round of layoffs.
For another, those remaining—especially the tech set—are working at home. Silicon Valley reports the nation’s highest percentage of remote workers, which has emptied our transit systems, upended commercial real estate, shuttered our downtowns, and it is rendering those in the supporting sectors obsolete.
The economy is in a funny in-between place, no longer shattering performance records, generating less venture capital, churning out fewer start-ups. IPOs have mostly run dry. Having realized the pandemic was only a temporary spike in demand, the tech sector is re-sizing and re-calibrating. Innovation seems to be headed for a new, yet-to-be-determined place, fueled by artificial intelligence.
The departing techies may still be working Silicon Valley jobs, but they are also giving rise to new centers of innovation and economic growth in places like Seattle, Austin, Denver and Salt Lake. That’s all for the good, but it signals a new reality in which Silicon Valley becomes one node (albeit a major node) in a more dispersed innovation ecosystem. The term “Silicon Valley” may start to lose meaning.
What remains are the region’s gaping disparities, and the developments of late have only exacerbated them. Pay rates for people performing the noble (and necessary) in-person functions haven’t come close to keeping pace with inflation. The growth in the daily number of meals our food banks are serving is astonishing. Despite herculean efforts, our unhoused population continues to rise.
We continue to document a growing income divide and the nation’s largest wealth gap. Stratified by race, ethnicity, or even gender, those gaps become still more pronounced, and educational attainment has not been the leveler that we might have expected.
Small wonder, that our 2023 report also documents a regression in our mental health and emotional well-being.
There’s a lot of sorting out for our region to do, and some hard choices to be making. Through it all, this organization will continue keeping count and providing the analytical foundation for decision making.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Joint Venture Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies