California’s Silicon Valley, often synonymous with good, high paying jobs, suddenly is well above the state and national average for unemployment. New numbers show the jobless rate there at nearly 12 percent, two full points above the national average. Tech workers, who not long ago were feeling pretty secure in their jobs, are finding themselves in unemployment lines – with many leaving the field entirely.
Community colleges and other retraining facilities are seeing a big increase in unemployed tech workers trying to learn new skills. The health care and clean-energy industries – which are in need of workers – seem to be the most popular for a career change. One career resource center in the Silicon Valley says 80 percent of its new recruits are from the tech world.
The changes reflect what’s going on with the economy. Unemployment in this part of California was steady last fall as the tech industry survived the initial stages of the downturn. But that didn’t last into 2009, when many of the area’s technology titans started to lay off people. In the first quarter of this year, the industry slashed more jobs than it had in seven years.