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Institute Update: Silicon Valley employment hit all-time high and pay gap widened in 2016; job growth slows

report coverSeptember 15, 2017 – Silicon Valley’s employment level reached an all-time high of 1.62 million workers by the end of last year, but the growth is slowing and remains uneven in wage and skill levels, the Joint Venture Institute for Regional Studies reported today.

In a research brief on the region’s employment trends based on the latest available government data, the Institute said Silicon Valley added 30,000 jobs during the second half of 2016, but labor force growth has stagnated since and continues slowing this year, driven by losses in Santa Clara County.

Middle-skilled, middle-wage positions added nearly 100,000 new jobs since mid-2010, while high-skilled, high-wage positions as well as low-skilled, low-wage jobs have both grown even faster, according to the brief. Unemployment, meanwhile, reached a 17-year low of 2.8 percent in May of this year.

High-skilled, high-wage positions earn $91,000 more per year in Silicon Valley than low-skilled, low-wage positions, a pay gap that increased nearly $4900 in the past year.

The brief further noted that recent major layoffs at some of the region’s largest firms – including Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Oracle America and Ericcson – may slow growth for key industries for the remainder of this year, notably the Innovation and Information Products and Services sector.

For the purposes of this report, Silicon Valley is defined as all of San Mateo County and Santa Clara County, Scotts Valley in Santa Cruz County, and the cities of Fremont, Newark, and Union City in southern Alameda County,

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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.

About the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies

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

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