Saturday, December 23, 2006

Silicon Valley Job Market, Hot, Hot, Hot

Valley Hiring Gains Steam


Silicon Valley's job market, which had posted slow, steady improvement, heated up in November, registering the strongest growth in 5 1/2 years.

The strong gains showed up in many industries as cautious employers, who had been holding back on hiring despite an improving economy, finally felt comfortable enough to loosen their belts a notch.

Employers in Santa Clara and San Benito counties added 13,900 jobs over the past 12 months, bringing local employment to 894,800 positions, the state's Employment Development Department said Friday. The November-to-November increase of 1.6 percent was the strongest the valley has experienced since April 2001 and even outpaced California's November employment growth of 1.1 percent, said Gary Schlossberg, a senior economist at Wells Capital Management.

The jobs report came amid other signs of economic vigor. The Nasdaq is up 8.9 percent so far this year, tech company profits are holding up and recent local surveys of consumer and executive confidence have been relatively strong.

Employers added 1,900 jobs in November compared with the month before, an increase that was more than double the average October-to-November gain since 1990.

Spectrum Economics Chairman Richard Carlson, who has been studying the valley's job market since 1975, said this is the ``first time I've been able to smile in a long time looking at these numbers.''
He said if Silicon Valley's job growth simply matched that of the state, local employment would have increased by only 8,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

``We are finally growing faster than the state,'' Carlson said. ``This is the first time this has happened in a very long while. It used to happen all the time.''

The valley's job growth outshined the state's last month in part because, as the housing market slowed down nationwide, the valley didn't take the hit in construction jobs that other parts of the state suffered. That is in part because construction ``never really boomed the way it did in the rest of the state,'' Schlossberg said. ``So you haven't seen things begin to unravel quite as rapidly in Santa Clara'' County.

Experts were pleased to see most sectors bucking up compared with a year ago, ranging from computer systems design and related services adding 1,400 jobs, to leisure and hospitality creating 2,600 more positions, primarily in eating and drinking establishments.......

By Nicole C. Wong
Mercury News

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