Unemployment hitting home in Silicon Valley

November 21, 2008 7:17:42 PM PST
There is no one face of unemployment in Silicon Valley, there are many and their ranks are growing by the day.

Rick Partal lost his job in construction and Michael Crumpler was a security officer.

Just one year ago, unemployment in San Benito and Santa Clara counties stood at 4.9 percent. Today, Silicon Valley's unemployment rate is 6.9 percent. That amounts to over 63,000 people out of work, and each has a story.

"It's terrible," Partal said. "I just took on a mortgage; last month was my first payment."

There are so many people filing first time unemployment claims that the system is overwhelmed.

"You just can't get through so I just decided to just come down here and wait for the phone; it's the only way to get through," Crumpler said.

Lisa Shipman knows the process too well. A veteran of the mortgage loan business, she has been unemployed for a year. Shipman hopes a new federal extension of unemployment benefits applies to her. Even so, the single mother is barely getting by.

"[You] don't know where you are going to get food and stuff sometimes," Shipman said.

The Employment Development Department is also busy sending rapid response teams to high tech companies that have recently laid-off massive numbers of employees, including Yahoo, Sun Microsystems and Applied Materials.

The economic downturn is cutting a wide and destructive path. Some of the casualties, like Partal and Crumpler are yet to be counted.

The credit crunch put Partal's job, and many others', on hold.

"They're just leaving the skeleton out there and that just scares the hell out of me, to tell you the truth," Partal said.


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