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Data Release: Silicon Valley unemployment sees temporary gains

resume illustrationIn advance of renewed restrictions, unemployment fell to 5.9%, lowest since onset of pandemic

November 20, 2020 – Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate slipped down by another 1.1 percentage points in October, according to analysis released today by Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies. Yet, as of mid-October, approximately 90,000 people remain unemployed in Silicon Valley.

The analysis follows this morning’s release from the California Employment Development Department (EDD).The October data reflect a significant month-over-month increase of jobs in Full-Service Restaurants (+9,600, or 9.9%), Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (+6,100 or 1.6%), Local Government Education (+2,800 or 5.0%), and Clothing, Clothing Accessories, and General Merchandise Stores (+1,200 or 3.6%) throughout the broader Silicon Valley region, including Santa Clara, San Benito, San Mateo, and San Francisco Counties.

Monthly Unemployment Rate chart

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2020 chart detail

“While the month-over-month job growth for certain industries – such as retail and restaurants – is impressive, the industry-specific employment numbers are still well below where they were at this time last year,” said Rachel Massaro, the Institute’s Director of Research. “With the newly-implemented stay-at-home orders, more stringent limitations on retail capacity, lack of indoor dining, and cool temperatures limiting outdoor dining, we’re unlikely to see significant recovery of those types of jobs in the November data.”

Key findings:

  • Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate declined by 1.1 percentage points in October, reaching 5.9%. This rate is lower than at any other time since the start of the pandemic.
  • As of mid-October, approximately 90,000 people in Silicon Valley’s labor force remained unemployed.
  • The increase in Silicon Valley employment levels between September and October (based on metro-area data, which includes San Francisco and San Benito Counties) was primarily driven by Accommodation & Food Services (+11,000 or 7.8%), Professional & Business Services (+6,800 or 1.3%), State & Local Government (+4,900 or 2.7%), and Retail Trade (+3,100 or 2.1%).
  • Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties had the 5thand 8thlowest unemployment rates, respectively, among the state’s 58 counties in October.
  • California’s relatively high unemployment rate is primarily driven by Los Angeles County, which had an estimated 613,400 unemployed and an unemployment rate of 12.1% in October.

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 September and October 2020 are preliminary, and county-level data for October are from the California Employment Development Department November 20 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

About Joint Venture Silicon Valley

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

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