Today, the California Employment Development put out a statement showing a 15.5% California unemployment rate and an 11.7% Santa Clara County unemployment rate for April. Across the Silicon Valley, that rate is 11.6%, worse than what the region saw amid the Great Recession that began in 2008 (when unemployment hit 10.5%), and also worse than any other period on record.
“We’ve just never seen numbers like this before,” said the Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies’ Director of Research, Rachel Massaro, in a press release today. “To think of more than 160,000 Silicon Valley residents out of work is absolutely mind-boggling. It’s also even more stark in the context of how many residents were struggling to make ends meet even before the pandemic, with nearly a third of all households that were unable to meet their basic needs without assistance.”
The unemployment impacts are particularly acute among those at the lower end of the income spectrum. If one works in a service job or another position that involves a lot of hands-on work and/or contact with the public, one’s job has proven particularly vulnerable. Said Massaro, “Those people are more likely to be renters, and nearly a quarter of all renters in Silicon Valley pre-pandemic were severely burdened by housing costs, spending more than half of their gross income on rent.”
San Francisco is faring even worse, with an unemployment rate of 12.6%. Alameda County, meanwhile, is at 14.1%, and the Bay Area on the whole is up at 13.1%.
The United States of America has an unemployment rate of 14.4%.
Sounding a less alarming note, Massaro added, “The majority of Silicon Valley’s unemployed workers have been either temporarily laid off or furloughed, so we have reason to believe many will go back to work as economic restrictions are lifted.”
In the meantime, many across the region and the country are feeling immense economic pressure as a result of the pandemic.
The unemployment numbers for May will be released on June 19.