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Silicon Valley sees job surge

On the job hunt? Better head to the Bay Area, where job growth has returned to dot-com boom levels, according to data released this week.

The Silicon Valley Index, a nationally recognized study released every February by Joint Venture and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, painted a mostly positive picture of Bay Area employment.

Last year, the nine-county region added about 92,000 jobs, according to the study. The magical world of Silicon Valley — specifically defined as Santa Clara and San Mateo counties — accounted for almost 50 percent of that growth, with 42,360 jobs. Quarterly employment grew by four percent, the highest the Valley has seen in a decade.

Santa Clara County has also exceeded its dot-com job totals according to president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley Russell Hancock  He said the SJ MercNews:

“This is prodigious job creation. The growth is crazy and it’s getting crazier.”

Hancock also believes that the area’s growth goes beyond the usual suspects of tech, social media and software to fields such as construction, which the study indicated is the fastest-growing industry in the Bay.

And big surprise: San Francisco, where job totals grew by 3.7 percent in 2012, is becoming an integral part of all the Silicon Valley growth. Hancock told the Mercury:

“For a long time we thought of San Francisco as an old-line town — banking, legal, retail, real estate. Now it’s tech, software, media, social networks, the Web.”

However, there’s more to Silicon Valley than just San Francisco and startups. But that often gets left behind. The report found that the gap between high and low income earners, as well as different ethnic groups, is widening.

Between 2009 and 2011, per capita income levels increased for whites, Asians and other groups. But income levels dropped by 18 percent among African-Americans and five percent among Latinos.

Other less sunny facts include housing prices that have not recovered to pre-recession levels, a decade high in percentage of income spent on rent, an education deficit that shuts many California residents out of the job surge and a decline in venture capital investment.

On Joint Venture’s website, a message on the 2013 index warns:

“This year’s index also makes it clear that our current economic growth, however widespread, is not a cure-all. The rebound has not reached all our residents, and it is not addressing the most serious challenges there were here before the recession and which remain with us today.”

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