Google is emerging as the poster child for optimism. It is planning to hire more than 6,200 people this year, up from 4,500 last year. That will set a new record for hiring in a single year at Google. Late last year, Google also announced it will give all of its 24,000 employees a 10 percent pay raise in an effort at retain them as start-up's begin to compete for talented engineers and sales staff. That move came with an estimated price tag of $500 million.
That optimism is showing up in research as Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network prepares to update its annual "State of the Valley Report," done in conjunction with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
"It looks like maybe we've started to turn the corner on the great recession at least here in Silicon Valley," Joint spokesperson Russell Hancock said. "But having said that, I also need to point out that it's offset by corresponding job losses in the public sector."
Yahoo dampened the outlook Tuesday, announcing the layoff of about 150 people, or 1 percent of its work force. That comes on top of 600 layoffs in December.
Still, CEO Carol Bartz, in an earnings conference call Tuesday, insisted Yahoo is hiring.
"We're going to exit the year with more people and still have flat costs, so we absolutely are hiring, we are going to hire and prioritize ways, but we're watching the cost," she said.
The recruiting firm Robert Half International just surveyed 4,000 CEOs; 8 percent of them in California say they plan to increase hiring between now and April. Aggressive hiring plans by big firms such as Google will trigger smaller companies to hire.
"We're already starting to see that trickle-down effect," Robert Half International are vice president Catrina Simbe said. "The biggest demand we've seen is in professional services, small to mid-sized professional services organizations that already are starting to feel growth, based on the larger companies' increase in hiring."
Seeing an increase in private sector jobs while losing them in the public sector could put pressure on the unemployment rate, not allowing that figure to drop as much as Silicon Valley and Washington would like.