Silicon Valley's Jobless Unplug From Tech

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

They're going where the money is going. If the money was flowing to the whittling sector, we'd have more whittlers in the Valley, ipso facto.
From the Wall Street Journal:

As Region's Unemployment Rises to 11.8%, Above National Average, Clean Energy and Health Care Draw More Applicants


Jobless workers in Silicon Valley are giving up on the region's dominant technology industry and trying to switch to other fields, as the area's unemployment rate spikes above the national and state average.

Job centers and community colleges across the region are reporting a surge in enrollment of out-of-work techies, with many looking to move into other industries. While data on the shift are scarce, the trend is evident at ProMatch, a government-funded organization in Sunnyvale, Calif., that helps unemployed professionals network, retrain and land new jobs.
Since the start of the year, ProMatch has seen its ranks swell from 180 attendees to its maximum capacity of 225, says Connie Brock, who helps run the group. Of those, about 80% are from the tech industry, and a third are seeking to transition to nontech jobs, estimates Ms. Brock. An additional 450 people have signed up for the waiting list to use ProMatch's services since January, she adds.

Many of the jobless techies are targeting new gigs in the clean-energy or health-care industries, according to ProMatch. Some are shifting even further afield, looking for jobs in teaching or financial consulting. People are leaving tech as "more tech companies are offshoring and some are shrinking, plus people are burned out and tired from having been there and done that," says Ms. Brock.

The activity at ProMatch illustrates how even workers in stronger pockets of the economy -- such as tech -- are having to adjust in the recession. For much of last year, unemployment in Silicon Valley remained under control as the tech industry initially held up in the downturn. But by late last year, tech spending had weakened, and companies such as eBay Inc. were announcing layoffs.

As a result, Silicon Valley's unemployment rate -- which was below California's average and largely tracked the national average last year -- has soared, surpassing the state average in May. By June, the area's unadjusted unemployment rate was 11.8%, worse than California's 11.6% and the national rate of 9.7%, according to the latest figures from California's Employment Development Department. The rate of job losses was particularly steep in sectors such as semiconductor manufacturing, where employment dropped more than 13% in June from a year earlier....MORE

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