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Silicon Valley economy recovering faster than nation

World's tech capital adds 42,000 jobs in 2011, an increase of 3.8 percent compared with the nation's 1.1 percent growth rate, according to a new survey.

Silicon Valley is experiencing a surge in job growth and wealth, outpacing the national economic recovery, according to a new report released today.

Silicon Valley added 42,000 jobs last year, an increase of 3.8 percent, much higher than the nation's 1.1 percent growth rate, according to the 2012 Silicon Valley Index (PDF), a report issued by nonprofits Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

The unemployment rate for the region declined 1.4 percent to end the year at 8.3 percent, on par with the national average but well below California's rate of 10.9 percent. However, the region's workforce has not recovered to 2007 levels.

Per capita income in the region was $66,000, an increase of 4 percent over 2010 and the second consecutive increase. Meanwhile, per capita incomes for the nation and state were in the low to mid-$40,000 range, both logging modest 2 percent increases since 2010.

"Though encouraging, we don't see the report as a cause for celebration," Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture, said in a statement.

The survey found that the proportion of Silicon Valley households in the middle income bracket (those earning $35,000 to $99,000) dropped 4 points--from 41 percent in 2004 to 37 percent in 2010. Households earning less than $35,000 decreased from 24 percent in 2004 to 20 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, households earning $100,000 or more made up 43 percent of Silicon Valley households in 2010, an increase of 8 points since 2004.

"The gap between those succeeding and those struggling grows wider and wider," Hancock said. "It's as if we're becoming two valleys."

The survey also found that total venture capital investment rose 17 percent, while investments in clean tech nearly doubled over the previous year. Also, Silicon Valley IPOs increased from 11 to 12 in 2011 while global activity slowed.