A Message About the 2018 Index
Summing up Silicon Valley’s economy and community in 2018 is not altogether easy. The data point us in different directions—indicating enormous success in some instances, and revealing shortfalls in others.
On the positive side, Silicon Valley continues to grow jobs at a rate anybody would envy. The tech sector is fueling our growth, and venture capitalists continue to invest in local innovators who in turn are generating patents at a dizzying pace. Our well-established, iconic companies are choosing to stay, adding armies of talented people, investing in impressive facilities and remaking our landscape. Unemployment is at a historic low. Median household income continues to grow, and it is outpacing inflation.
Without question, Silicon Valley is still a hotbed, and the pages of this report make this clear.
But don’t we also want the region to be a place where families can thrive? Our spectacular success has somehow created a harsh environment for this. This report also documents how housing is out of reach for all but a very few. Those who can’t afford it are living challenging lives, or commuting in from far-flung places. Most people don’t find transit options compelling, so we spend ghastly amounts of time in traffic.
We’re an affluent region and that also makes us a high-cost region. Child care costs are rising precipitously, and so are the costs of other necessities. Middle-skill and mid-wage jobs are vanishing, and this places a limiting factor on our local (and potentially incoming) families. Income inequality becomes more pronounced with each passing year. Today nearly a third of Silicon Valley households require some form of assistance in order to get by, and ten percent of our residents are food insecure.
How do we continue to grow without adverse effects? How do we find the will and the wherewithal to provide the kind of infrastructure that a thriving region requires? How do we add to our housing stock? How do we replenish our community with young people, ensure they have an education that makes them competitive for the region’s jobs, and make it affordable enough for them to stay?
These are the questions assailing Silicon Valley in 2018. Now there needs to be some very serious ensuing conversation, fully informed by the facts. We’re pleased to provide them, and to facilitate a process of regional dialogue and decision-making.
Wouldn’t it be remarkable if Silicon Valley’s drive to succeed in the marketplace were matched by a corresponding drive to solve community problems?
President & Chief Executive Officer
Joint Venture Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies