South Bay hit hard by economic crisis


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"This is the first time that I've ever, ever had a hard time getting back into the game," said unemployed high tech worker Vickie Tracy.

Tracy has worked in purchasing at some of the biggest tech firms in the valley over the past 30 years.

Now she's a statistic -- one of more than 880,000 South Bay workers without a job. She has been looking for work for six months.

"They're advertising, but when you fax in your resume or apply, you get no response whatsoever.It's really hard," said Tracy.

And the chances of finding another tech job aren't favorable.

Robert Half International, a staffing and consulting firm, just surveyed 1,400 employers about their tech hiring plans.

In the West, only seven percent said they plan to hire -- three percent have layoffs looming, which leaves no change in staffing for 80 percent of companies.

Preference in hiring goes to people who multi-task and take a 10 to 40 percent pay cut.

"Clients now are starting to talk to us about bringing on contractors and really taking advantage of the labor market and bringing on people at a lower rate," said Jason Lammers from Robert Half International.

Skills in demand include network administration, desktop support, Windows administration and database management.

State Senator Joe Simitian from Palo Alto is hopeful that federal stimulus money will help.

"The sooner we can get those dollars into the California economy, the sooner we can turn the state around and the sooner we can turn those unemployment numbers around," said Sen. Simitian.

For now, the jobless numbers keep growing month to month, year over year.

"It's more than doubled so we have our challenges ahead to put people back to work," said State Labor Market Consultant Janice Shriver.

And in the South Bay's important agriculture sector, some idled workers are leaving, literally for greener fields in Mexico.

Silicon Valley has been losing manufacturing jobs for years, but the one ray of hope is that green technology will reverse that.

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