Silicon Valley CEOs optimistic job growth will continue despite challenges

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- More than 100 CEOs of technology companies in Silicon Valley remain optimistic that job growth will continue, despite concerns of a possible economic slowdown, ongoing regional challenges such as traffic congestion, the lack of affordable housing and fast-rising home prices.

However, the surveyed companies also see job growth in a number of competing innovation centers such as Seattle and Austin, while also indicating they may add jobs in a number of emerging expansion areas such as Salt Lake City, Portland and Denver.

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This is the fifth year for the Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project (SVCIP), a joint project of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

While the prospect of job growth over the next five or six years is promising, Silicon Valley continues to face an out-migration of residents for the second year in a row. In 2017, an average of 165 people moved away each month, compared to 42 each month in 2016. Silicon Valley also has the second longest average commute time in the country at one hour and 13 minutes. Only New Yorkers have a longer average commute of one hour and 15 minutes.

Spending more time stuck in traffic is an issue in many cities. Over a seven-year span, commute times in Silicon Valley rose 21-percent. Seattle saw a 14-percent increase, while Austin logged a 10-percent increase. Southern California and Boston saw an average 9-percent increase.

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Silicon Valley, according to the study sponsors, also shows an increasing dependence on immigrants for its work force. Six out of 10 of them were born in other countries. Brian Brennan, senior vice president at Silicon Valley Leadership Group, says immigration policy and the differences in positions in Washington will have an impact on the availability of foreign-born workers.

The issues facing Silicon Valley are not new. A number of solutions are in the works, such as the BART extension to Silicon Valley and funding for affordable housing. However, there are many other unresolved issues, such as some communities blocking efforts to build more housing out of concern that more traffic congestion will result.
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