Silicon Valley Rises Again

Job growth and new technologies are reshaping the Silicon Valley region, a new report finds.

Adding more than 30,000 new jobs, Silicon Valleys per capita income, average pay and value-added per worker showed significant gains last year, according to the 2007 Silicon Valley Index, a report to be released by the Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network at its annual conference Feb. 2.

In the first time since 2001, employment in Silicon Valley increased by 33,000 jobs in 2006, and six of the top 10 cities for patents were located in the region.

While it still ranks the highest in IT employment, other world cities, such as Singapore, Taiwan, Tokyo and Munich, are quickly catching up. Within the United States, Silicon Valley is nearly neck-and-neck with Austin and Boston in terms of IT employment.

Silicon Valleys population grew by 1.28 percent in 2006, more than in the previous year. In addition, immigration doubled and emigration fell by 40 percent. With 40 percent of its population with a bachelors degree, Silicon Valley was one of the most highly educated regions in the United States in 2006.

Supplanting Los Angeles as Californias most ethnically diverse region, the report evidences that Silicon Valley is now second nationally, behind Miami. The region also has the one of the most global in character workforces, with 40 percent born outside of the United States, and 48 percent of the population speaking a language other than English at home.

More uniquely, over half (55 percent) of its science and engineering talent was born abroad in 2005, well over double that of the United States at large (20 percent).

However, the region is still plagued with many of the old challenges that come with rapid growth as well as disparities in racial and ethnic groups. The percentage of first-time home buyers who can afford a median-priced home was down from 31 percent in 2005 to 26 percent in 2006.

Between 2001 and 2005, the number of Silicon Valley residents who received health insurance coverage from their employers was down 5 percent to 70 percent.

High school graduation rates dropped 3 percent to 86 percent across Silicon Valley, the lowest level since 1998, while drop-out rates increased by 1 percent for all ethnic groups except Hispanics.

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Juvenile felony offenses per capita (per 100,000) increased to 1,034, up from 902 in the previous year.

"Most of these challenges are old and familiar," said Russell Hancock, chief executive officer of Joint Venture, in a preview of the report. "The portion of residents unable to afford median-level housing is increasing. Health care availability shows troubling disparities by race. Too many are unprepared to compete in todays economy. Our educational institutions are straining under the demands heaped upon them. Its alarming to see juvenile crime on the increase."

"We are growing as a global center for creativity in business and technology, defining our advantage by being creators of new products, services, companies and business models… The question for Silicon Valley is whether there will be broad participation in these activities—particularly for the rising generation—or whether were looking at a future where our companies prosper through their global networks but the region doesnt feel better off," said Hancock.

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