Silicon Valley employment outlook brightens

Jobs numbers in the IT hub are up for the first time in years. Richard Gincel reports

For the first time in four years, tech sector jobs in Silicon Valley have edged upward, marking a welcome show of strength in the rough-and-tumble employment market.

According to a report by the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, a nonprofit community organisation, the region added 2,000 jobs in 2005, an overall gain of 0.2%. As of June, unemployment had fallen to its lowest level since 2001.

“I think it’s a turnaround but it’s subtle,” says Russell Hancock, the network’s president and chief executive. “This doesn’t mean we’re going to start churning out jobs at a dizzying pace, but it’s an indication that we’re going to see steady, incremental growth.”

Silicon Valley is now emerging as a haven for consumer product design and marketing, Hancock says.

Most of the new jobs are high-end positions in the software cluster and there have also been job gains in industrial design, engineering, and

marketing research.

“The Valley’s coming back with a very different profile,” says Doug Henton, president of consultancy Collaborative Economics.

He cites a shift away from production and a significant increase in the number of small companies equipped to bring ideas to market.

“We design it here and it’s produced elsewhere ... in places like China or India. That’s what makes the Valley tick.”

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