Bay Area hiring dips 25 percent since coronavirus shutdowns: report
An aerial image of a part of the city of Santa Clara. Photograph by The 111th Group

    Hiring across the country is down significantly as the United States reels from the sudden impacts of the novel coronavirus, which has shuttered storefronts and office parks alike. Though some technology sectors have seen gains, the Bay Area hasn’t been spared, new data shows.

    The Bay Area has seen a 25 percent decline in hiring activity since February, shortly before health officials were aware of the coronavirus spread in the region, according to Joint Venture Silicon Valley and its data arm, the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies.

    Nationally, hiring has declined by 21 percent in that time, though hardware and networking jobs saw a 2 percent boost, the data shows.

    The numbers released this week come as Joint Venture’s Institute for Regional Studies has concentrated its resources to mapping and analyzing the coronavirus’s impact on the economy and studying ways the region can successfully emerge from the ripple effects.

    The group recorded a 1.2 percent decline in Bay Area hiring in March, which captured about two weeks of the regional shelter-in-place order.

    “When we reported the decline in hiring rates last month, we knew it was just scratching the surface of the pandemic-impact,” Rachel Massaro, the institute’s director of research, said. “With the release of this new hiring data, we see that there was, in fact, a significant decline in April hiring rates locally and in regions across the country.”

    Though the Bay Area’s hiring declines are more severe than the national average, the region is still faring better than other major regions, including Austin, Denver, Atlanta, New York City and Los Angeles.

    “Silicon Valley’s dense concentration of semiconductor, ISP, wireless and networking equipment companies was likely a factor in keeping the hiring decline more muted here than elsewhere,” Massaro said.

    Graph by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, Institute for Regional Studies

    The group’s data matches with recent workforce reports published by professional networking tech titan LinkedIn. Mountain View-based LinkedIn uses its own data from more than 160 million members to track how many have added a new employer to their profile that month to find the “hiring rate” across the country.

    In April, LinkedIn’s Bay Area seasonally adjusted hiring rate dipped by 21.5 percent compared with the month before, and nearly 29 percent from the year before.

    Graph by LinkedIn

    Nationally, the company’s hiring rate dropped by nearly 24 percent from March, the worst dip since LinkedIn started tracking the rate six years ago, according to a report by George Anders, the company’s senior editor at large.

    But like Joint Venture, LinkedIn’s data showed that certain industries were actually faring better since the pandemic hit, specifically certain technology sectors, including the hardware and networking services that allow people to work remotely.

    Graph by LinkedIn

    “What unites these pandemic-resistant industries?” Anders said. “Their products and services are vastly different. But most of them address bedrock societal needs.”

    Indeed, even as job hirings dwindle, LinkedIn data shows remote work job postings are increasing, jumping by 28 percent nationwide in March.

    Workers searched for jobs using the keywords “remote” or “work at home” 42 percent more during the month of March, according to LinkedIn.

    That may make sense, because when companies do start welcoming employees back to the office, the re-openings will be gradual, real estate experts say.

    Google, for instance, announced this week it would start bringing 10 to 15 percent of its workforce to the office at a time after June 1 but that most employees would work from home longer, potentially through the end of the year, according to a report by CNBC.

    Facebook told employees they would likely work from home for the rest of the year, even after offices reopen, potentially later this summer, according to CNBC.

    Many experts estimate that work-from-home options will become more common among companies, and when employees return to the office, those spaces will be different, with taller cubical walls, more space between desks and other changes.

    “Office design is always on a pendulum between privacy and open plan, and this has been going on since the ’50s,” Nick Goddard, senior vice president for Colliers International, said in a recent interview. “But I think you’re going to see demand going more towards a 1990s kind of model where you’ve got a lot of private offices.”

    Contact Janice Bitters at [email protected] or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.

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