Recession? Not for Silicon Valley

Fed says tech workers paid more now than during boom

By Scott McGrew
|  Thursday, Aug 13, 2009  |  Updated 7:09 AM PDT
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Recession? Not for Silicon Valley

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Most big-time CEOs couldn't even pay their maids on $500,000 a year, but that won't stop President Obama from restricting their salaries.

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There's no economic doom and gloom for Silicon Valley tech workers, those who who still have their jobs, that is.

The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the health of Silicon Valley shows tech workers doing better now than they were during the dotcom boom -- much better.

"While the employment picture may sound a bit negative, the wage  picture was much more sunny," said Amar Mann, regional economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, who co-authored the report titled "After the Dot-Com Bubble: Silicon Valley High-Tech Employment and wages in 2001 and  2008."

The BLS, part of the Department of Labor, says the average technology worker in South Bay area made $35,000 more per year in 1998 than in 2001. The greater pay means technology firms have their largest payrolls ever, pumping $60 billion into the economy -- far more than in the height of the Internet boom in 2000-2001.

The government bureau does acknowledge, however, that the number of people employed in the technology heavy region is far less.  As many as 85,000 jobs may have been lost since the beginning of the decade, according to the report.

Among other findings in the report:

  • Jobs grew in the fields of aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and scientific research between 2001 and 2008. Mann calls these sectors the "emerging leaders" of Silicon Valley's tech economy.
  • Jobs declined in fields such as data processing, semiconductor manufacturing and computer system design.
  • Silicon Valley continues to lead the nation in registered patents. The region is home to 11 of the top 20 U.S. cities with the most registered patents.
  • The whole report from the BLS, called After the Dot-Com Bubble: Silicon Valley High-Tech Employment and Wages in 2001 and 2008 is available online at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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