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Data Release: Silicon Valley unemployment declines by 0.4 percentage points

cover imageSeptember unemployment at 7.1% Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties had 6th and 8th lowest rates in state

October 16, 2020 – Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies today released analysis of Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate through September along with the historical trend back to the year 2000.

The analysis follows this morning’s release from the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The September data that were released represent the first look at regional employment since the school year started in mid- to late-August.

Monthly Unemployment Rate chart

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2020 chart detail

“The September employment numbers are mostly telling us what we already know – that the school year started and many educators went back to work. There’s also a continued need for healthcare and social assistance jobs during the pandemic,” said Rachel Massaro, the Institute’s Director of Research. “What was slightly more surprising was the large jump in clothing store jobs, with around 1,600 additional people employed across four counties.”

Key findings:

  • Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate declined by 0.4 percentage points in September, reaching 7.1%. This rate is exactly half way between the April high of 11.6% and the pre-pandemic (February) rate of 2.4%.
  • As of mid-September, approximately 103,400 people in Silicon Valley’s labor force remained unemployed.
  • The increase in Silicon Valley employment levels between August and September (based on metro-area data, which includes San Francisco and San Benito Counties) was primarily driven by Clothing & Clothing Accessory Stores (+13.2%), State & Local Government Education (+7.6%), Construction (up 2.1%), Food Services & Drinking Places (+1.5%), and Health Care & Social Assistance (+1.2%).
  • Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties had the 6th and 8th lowest unemployment rates, respectively, among the state’s 58 counties in September.
  • California’s relatively high unemployment rate is primarily driven by Los Angeles County, which had nearly 750,000 unemployed and an unemployment rate of 15.1% in September.

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 for August and September 2020 are preliminary, and county-level data for September are from the California Employment Development Department October 16 release.

For further reference

To access Silicon Valley’s online data hub, visit

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

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