New data shows Silicon Valley's low-wage workforce hit hard by pandemic

SILICON VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- In a little more than three weeks, we will hit one year since the Bay Area went into pandemic lockdown.

The nearly year-long pandemic has hammered Silicon Valley, creating new problems and making existing ones worse. The analysis contained in Joint Venture's new Silicon Valley Index points out, for example, that unemployment brushed close to 12 percent, worse than during the 2008 recession and the dot-com bust.

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"It was upwards of 30 percent for some segments of our population, particularly those who were earning poverty wages," said Rachel Massaro, research director at Joint Venture Silicon Valley's Institute for Regional Studies.

Hardest hit were low-wage service workers when restaurants and hotels lost business. Jobless claims were two times higher for Black and Hispanic workers than for white workers.

"Without a job or an income, these workers face even greater risks of being evicted and pushed into homelessness. This is huge," said Nicole Taylor, president & CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

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Silicon Valley has always had two economies but during the pandemic, income inequality grew as high tech workers continued to work remotely while service workers couldn't.

"We actually have a case of the rich getting richer and the poor, dying. And that's the bleak set of circumstances we now face," said Russell Hancock, president & CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

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