13% of the households in Silicon Valley control more than 75% of the region’s wealth.
That’s according to the annual Silicon Valley Index – and it says this puts the region’s income inequality at “a historic high.”
For those at the top, 2019 was a great year, with a $17 billion increase in the region’s gross domestic product. Yet for everyone else, the rising cost of living – particularly housing prices – meant that for much of the population, economic security seemed out of reach.
“The result is the nation’s highest housing prices, an unsettled workforce and a transportation system sagging under the weight of 100,000 megacommuters,” Silicon Valley Joint Venture president Russell Hancock wrote in his introduction to the report. “Add to this the nation’s most sharply pronounced income gaps and you have a formula for despair.”
There are a lot of different solutions that can be attempted – the report focuses in particular on housing and metro issues – but one key element is increasing access to the high paying jobs that the technology industry is creating.
That requires education focused on industry needs – and it also needs to be accessible to the people who would benefit most. People who don’t have industry connections or the time and resources to go back to school.
That’s a significant part of Calbright’s mission: to find companies looking to hire people for those upwardly mobile positions, and to work directly with industry to create trainings for people currently on the outside.
We then make those trainings more accessible than they’ve ever been – we make them free; we put them online; we make them self-paced; we provide wraparound, high touch services that go with them, to keep people on track. When learners have completed their courses, we connect them with the companies whose needs guided the lessons. And while any adult Californian can sign up, we particularly target traditionally underserved and even disenfranchised populations.
It probably won’t be enough to bring income inequality back into line all on its own. But raising the standard of living for hundreds of thousands of Califoirnians while supporting our state industries is a great start.