A Message About the 2014 Index
There is much to celebrate in the 2014 Silicon Valley Index. We’ve extended a four-year streak of job growth, we are among the highest income regions in the country, and we have the biggest share of the nation’s high-growth, high-wage sectors.
Our innovation engine is driving this prodigious growth. Once again we registered more patents than any previous year, increased our share of venture capital and angel investment, saw more IPOs emanating from our region, and have large and growing shares of merger and acquisition activity.
By just about any measure our performance is remarkable, and it leads the nation.
So why does the Index also make us feel uneasy?
There are two reasons, at least. One is that growth has its challenges, and despite recent efforts on the housing and transportation fronts, our region is not making enough progress. Our infrastructure isn’t keeping pace with the demand placed upon it, and we haven’t found a way to adequately increase the stock of housing. Though we’re reporting the highest number of residential units permitted in recent years, it is discouraging that it doesn’t even come close to meeting demand. As a result, housing prices continue to soar, rental expenses outpace income gains, and fewer than half of our first-time homebuyers can afford the median-priced home.
Without doubt, Silicon Valley’s success has also made it a less hospitable place.
The second reason why the Index is troubling is because our prosperity is not widely shared. It is a story the Index has been telling for many years, but in this 2014 installment the gaps and disparities are more pronounced than ever. These are the hard facts: our income gains are limited to those with ultra high-end skills. Median wages for low- and middle-skilled workers are relatively stagnant and the share of households with mid-level incomes has fallen in Silicon Valley more than in the state and nation. Disparities by race are more persistent than ever. We also saw a sharp increase in homelessness.
While job growth is important, it can never be the single measure of our region’s health when it is confined to a limited number of sectors. The ultimate measure is a steady increase in real income, raising the standard of living for all of our residents.
Our two organizations are committed to providing analysis and action on these vexing problems, even as we celebrate our region’s incredible dynamism.
|Russell Hancock, Ph.D.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Joint Venture Silicon Valley
|Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D.
CEO & President
Silicon Valley Community Foundation