Despite optimism, Silicon Valley unemployment up

March 4, 2011 6:44:56 PM PST
As they say, you can't judge a book from its cover, and the same can be said about this month's unemployment figures, just out Friday morning. The jobless rate for Silicon Valley (the state combines numbers for Santa Clara and San Benito counties) was 10.8 percent in January, up 0.2 percent from December. What that reflects is the seasonal layoffs for holiday retail clerks and farm workers, says Janice Shriver, labor market analyst with the state's Employment Development Dept. office in Campbell.

There's no question about it. The job market is still tough for people such as Lorraine Bero who has been out of work for two years and two months.

"I'm hoping there's something around the corner. I keep on looking, and I keep putting my resumes out," she said.

Silicon Valley remains a high tech center, and that's where the good news is.

"We saw an addition of 3,700 jobs and more than half of that in computers and electronics products. It's a really positive sign," state labor market analyst Janice Shriver said.

Here's another positive sign: In January, there were 40,000 online job ads, compared to 30,000 a year earlier and tech jobs topped the list. Over 2,000 ads were looking for software engineers, nearly 1,000 marketing managers, 823 web developers and almost 600 systems analysts.

"I would say that's a positive indication that there is something bouncing back as far as the economy is concerned," unemployed clerical worker Darrell Raglin said.

Cybercoders, a recruiting firm, had the most ads, followed by Apple, Google and Cisco. But there are non-tech job openings, too. Safeway started interviewing to fill 170 jobs at a new super store under construction in Campbell.

"They took and interviewed 294 folks, and out of that 294, there was about 80 conditional offers made," Work2Future Business Sevices Manager BJ Sims said.

That means 90 jobs are still potentially open. Interviews will be held again at Work2Future in San Jose on Wednesday.

As today's unemployment figures indicate, one month doesn't make a trend. But for the first time since the recession began, we're starting to see a bit of optimism.