Unemployment rate in Silicon Valley lower than state
An aerial view of San Jose. Photo courtesy of The 111th Photography.

    Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate has inched up, but industries like hospitality and restaurants are still seeing growth despite employment fluctuating throughout the region.

    Local unemployment rose to 3% from April to May, nearly 1% higher than the same time last year, according to a recent report from Joint Venture Silicon Valley, which analyzes issues affecting quality of life in Silicon Valley. The report categorizes Silicon Valley as Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

    Silicon Valley unemployment ticked up again just slightly in June, to 3.1%.

    Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, said residents shouldn’t be worried about the gradual uptick. The region’s unemployment rate is still lower than the state at 4.8% and the nation at 3.6%. According to the report, San Mateo County holds the lowest unemployment rate in California, and Santa Clara County is tied with Orange County for the fourth lowest unemployment rate among California counties.

    “There are a lot of other regional economies that don’t have the dynamism that this one does,” Hancock told San José Spotlight.

    Silicon Valley’s monthly unemployment rate from April to May 2023. Image courtesy of Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

    Employment in the region decreased by more than 4,900 workers, while the number of unemployed residents grew by 3,400 in the one-month span. The report found a total of 45,600 people were unemployed in Silicon Valley—12,300 in San Mateo County and 33,300 in Santa Clara County.

    Hancock said he couldn’t pinpoint the factors that contributed to the rise because the unemployment rate is unpredictable and isn’t seasonal.

    The restaurant and hospitality industry experienced the greatest job increase, adding 3,000 positions to the region from April to May. The industry is 5,900 jobs away from reaching pre-pandemic levels, according to the report.

    Enrique Fernández, business manager and general vice president for immigration, civil rights and diversity of hospitality workers union Unite Here Local 19, said the increase makes sense as the industry prepares for summer. He thinks it will take until 2024 or 2025 to fully recover from the effects of COVID-19, after tourism took a hit and the amount of workers plunged. He’s hopeful the upward trend will continue as conventions return to the city and marketing increases.

    “We all want those numbers to be a reality today,” Fernández told San José Spotlight. “I think that we are on our way.”

    Other sectors that have seen increased jobs include the government, which has added 2,200 jobs, and construction at an added 1,400 jobs. Educational and health services experienced the largest decrease in jobs, losing 1,100 positions, followed by manufacturing, which lost 600 positions. This is based on metro area data, which includes San Francisco and San Benito County in addition to Silicon Valley.

    Hancock said unemployed residents should not lose faith in finding a job.

    “It’s really hard to be unemployed,” he said. “Luckily, this is a prodigious economy, and we’re generating jobs across the board.”

    Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on Twitter.

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