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Silicon Valley jobs dip, green tech grows

New report also shows region's per capita income fell last year for the first time since 2003. But green tech jobs continued to rise.

Green-tech jobs are providing a bloom to Silicon Valley's otherwise barren employment outlook, according to a recently released economic report.

In the high-tech mecca, Silicon Valley jobs dipped 1.3 percent year over year in December. Per capita income fell 0.8 percent last year over the previous period--the first time it had fallen since 2003, according to a report by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network. The two organizations will jointly host the State of the Valley Conference on Friday in San Jose, Calif.

Such results in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan statistical area come at a time when jobs contracted 1.7 percent statewide and 2 percent nationwide during the same period, according to the report.

Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network and Silicon Valley Community Foundation

According to the report:

Until the last quarter of 2008, Silicon Valley seemed to be weathering the global financial crisis and economic recession better than the nation. This is no longer the case. Since November, we have witnessed a spike in job losses and a significant drop in the commercial property markets.

But green-tech jobs have grown 23 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to the report, as venture capital investments in the sector have soared since 2005. Last year alone, venture capital investments in Valley clean-tech companies soared 94 percent over the previous year, the report noted.

Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network and Silicon Valley Community Foundation

And within green tech, jobs involving energy generation, which primarily entails solar system installation, accounted for the largest slice. But in the two-year period spanning 2005 and 2007, jobs involving green buildings climbed 424 percent, transportation rose 140 percent, and advanced materials 54 percent, according to the report.

Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network and Silicon Valley Community Foundation

The report further notes that growth in green-tech jobs may eventually pull the region out of the economic malaise, which has taken out a wide swath of jobs both within Silicon Valley and across the nation:

Today we're racked by the collapse of our nation's financial institutions, a meltdown in the housing markets and a global climate crisis, and yet here too we may already be seeing the seeds of a Valley comeback. It is being driven by our newly emerging "green" economy.

The report further calls on a retraining of the region's workforce to take advantage of this shift and others within the region's high-tech industries.

Over the past decade, for example, Silicon Valley has seen a change in its industry mix from predominately hardware companies to software companies, the report notes.