What's happening to the thousands of starving, homeless skilled workers and numerous college graduates who can't find jobs or afford to live in Silicon Valley? Earning the new $10 an hour minimum wage in San Jose, CA isn't going to do much good when it comes to renting an apartment, since nearly $2,000 a month is the average two-bedroom rental.
In the midst of high-tech headquarters such as Google and a large number of college-educated residents, the poor are getting poorer. Poverty for the less educated also is much worst, but for college graduates without specific technical skills, it's worse than it was five years ago. Check out the site, "At South by Southwest, fewer startups, more marketers and media."
The median home price is $550,000, so renting an average two-bedroom apartment for just under $2,000 a month can mean squeezing four twin beds into the two bedrooms as four people might be needed to share that two-bedroom apartment paying A$500 a month plus utilities, food, transportation, work clothes, and taxes as starters. Yet many of the nation's wealthiest companies including Facebook, Apple Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Google are situated in San Jose, and the stock share of Google this morning was $840 and rising as of March 11, 2013.
Who can afford to live in San Jose and how smart do you have to be to thrive there?
For a family of four, just covering basic needs like rent, food, childcare and transportation comes to almost $90,000 a year, according to the nonprofit Insight Center for Community Economic DevelopmentInsight. Check out the March 11, 2013 news articles, "Silicon Valley Poverty Is Getting Much Worse Amidst Insane New Tech Wealth Boom," and "Many left behind as Silicon Valley rebounds - Yahoo! News."
What the mainstream media reports nowadays is that Silicon Valley's top tech magnates on the Forbes annual list of the richest people on the planet released this week include Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison with a reported whopping net worth of $43 billion, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had about $23 billion each, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly was worth an estimated $13.3 billion. Also, Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, had an estimated worth of $10.7 billion. And you wonder, how high an I.Q. does it take to earn even a quarter of this type of annual income or get a job that potentially could lead to it while you're in the age bracket of all these top tech magnates?
The culture of the impoverished college graduate focuses on contacting the media about their under-culture desperation
The media repeatedly advertises that Silicon Valley is adding jobs faster than it has in more than a decade as the technical industry roars back. But companies want a specific set of skills and experience, and they want youth.
In contrast is a fast-rising tide of the impoverished in that city. Food stamp participation today hit a 10-year high. Homelessness rose 20 percent since 2011. Latinos are being hit the hardest. The average income for Hispanics, who make up one in four Silicon Valley residents, fell to a new low of about $19,000 a year.
Why is the income of Latinos experiencing a steady 14 percent drop over the past five years? You can check out the statistics with the "2013 Silicon Valley Index: Strong growth propels Silicon Valley from recession." The stronger the growth, apparently the higher the cost of living there, and the more an increasing number of desperately poor people are wondering why they can't survive there or must use food banks to get free groceries.
The annual Silicon Valley Index has been released recently by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, representing businesses, and the philanthropic Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Also check out the sites, "Poverty Is Getting Much Worse Amidst Silicon Valley's Insane Wealth" and "Many left behind as Silicon Valley rebounds."
In the March 11, 2013 news feature, "At South by Southwest, fewer startups, more marketers and medial," what's happening at a variety of industries are detailed as to whether the startup world has grown vastly more diverse in subject matter and more mainstream, with dozens of do-it-yourself workshops and "meetups". You have a media culture in Silicon Valley of former alternative newspaper journalists that now organize technical events, even technical festivals as a new trend in public relations-media careers. These entrepreneurial spin-offs of freelance journalism can become moneymakers by offering hundreds of head-spinning panels and events to choose from, compared with just 16 two decades ago. What's money-making for those interested in media and techno-culture as a careers is that now there there's a larger presence of corporate sponsors?
Some journalism freelancers living near all the headquarters of various technical giant companies and staratups can focus on the new, smaller, indie technical products and companies emerging. Life becomes a publicity campaign spent at one convention center or another. And what started as freelance journalism may turn into advertising-supported business models that cater to many app makers and their events.
Marketing is a big part of new media, tech culture, and money-making business at this point for many freelance writers in San Jose
What's happening in digital media and social media focuses on more programming with offerings fleshed out by health and medicine or public service and activism sometimes referred to in the media as "sub-topics." With so many startups expanding, there have been an increasing number of advanced design-related programs. News and media jobs or entrepreneurial work for journalists now focus on festival programming because digital outlets and traditional news organizations alike flock to conventions and events to market this fast-changing industry. You have writers working in temporary jobs as unpaid volunteer organizers for various tech businesses, such as the startups. Media has become a festival's culture.
Meeting and greeting by itself, doesn't pay much, though. And a lot of advertising jobs don't last very long for freelance journalists. Money comes in from branding. And the outcome in San Jose's Silicon Valley is that the ultra-rich are getting even richer, record numbers of Silicon Valley residents are slipping into poverty.
There's trouble in Silicon valley because the poor are getting even poorer and sicker
What good is a national economic recovery led by Silicon Valley's resurgence measured by corporate profits and stock prices, when most people say they're getting poorer -- unless they're one of the few owners of successful high-tech businesses? Just look at the research from the San Jose-based Working Partnerships USA, a nonprofit advocating for affordable housing, higher minimum wages and access to health care. Check out the March 11, 2013 article, "Silicon Valley Poverty Is Often Ignored By The Tech Hub's Elite." And see, "Student class project leads to minimum wage jump."
Marisela Castro, a daughter of farmworkers who turned her Social Action class project at San Jose State University into a campaign to increase the local minimum wage, according to the news article, "Student class project leads to minimum wage jump." The March 13, 2013 news article reported that her activism paid off, as "70,000 workers in San Jose enjoyed the nation's single largest minimum-wage increase, a 25 percent raise from $8 to $10 an hour, amounting to a $4,000 annual bump in pay for a full time worker to $22,080." Check out the article. What you'll read is how the students started with a poll that found 70 percent of the community favored an increase. They later learned one in five local workers would be directly impacted. Then they asked Cindy Chavez, who heads the nonprofit Working Partnerships USA, for support.
Now contrast today's news on a student's effort with various college graduates unable to find paid work. The disparity between rich, poor, and millionaires-in-training who are young, in college or just out of college and vying for jobs almost is nowhere more obvious than San Jose's sprawling and trash-strewn 28-acre tent city that authorities are trying to clean out. It's noisy, wracked with air pollution and located beneath the sweeping shadow and roar of jets soaring in and out of nearby San Jose's international airport.
How tight are the times?
You can turn to United Way Silicon Valley to read some of their research, but the cycle remains that in San Jose, an area so very rich, you see so many poor. Who is saying they dare you to break that cycle? Silicon Valley shines with brain power, but why are so many of the poor not able to sell their own brain power? The issue is the job needs don't fit the skills and experience available.
Is the very high cost of living the major problem as to why the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer and sicker? The smartest look at research from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C. The rich are getting richer because those at the very top of the pyramid keep making more money doing what they do best. And the poor people are smart enough to realize that growth that doesn't benefit the great majority of people across the USA, let alone in San Jose, San Francisco, or here locally in Sacramento.
The real problem might be the declining value of the federal minimum wage
Public voices are crying about inequality. On March 11, 2013 minimum wages rose to $10 an hour in San Jose. It used to be just $8 an hour. Where are you going to live on that? And how are you going to live if you're a single parent with two children, for example? Or one person trying to live independently? Do you end up in a single-occupancy flop house? Or do you share a two-bedroom apartment with four other 'singletons' or move back with your parents if young? If old, where do you go if you've outlived your savings?
Ten dollars an hour won't buy you three hots and a cot in San Jose or many other cities in California, not unless you're in jail, where, of course you don't want to be, and especially not if you're a new college graduate (or high-school graduate). You look at the tech magnates and wonder why you can't get a job like they have with their pay if you've been to college and studied pretty much the same subjects.
You could try to find a job or even an internship with businesses that sell to the super rich tech magnates. You could read the research from or aboutthe The Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco. Or you could befriend or work for, or in other ways help, intern for, service, or volunteer to do business with the California super rich. For example you could open a company that tracks the super rich. There's one already, Wealth-X that does just that--tracking the super rich. See, the Atlantic article, "The 10 Colleges Most Likely to Make You a Billionaire (Harvard Is #1)." But not a lot of people in the general public can afford to get into those colleges, or can't make the grade to get a foot in the door.
You could apply for a job at the colleges and try to work your way up in the offices as one way of meeting people destined to be rich. On the other hand, would the students give you the time of day (or a marriage proposal) which is still one way to rub elbows with the millionaires-in-training? You could offer to write their life story as a freelance journalist in the media working as an independent, if they'll consider you worthy of a press pass into their lives or events. Check out the articles, "Silicon Valley Poverty Is Often Ignored By The Tech Hub's Elite," and "Want to be a billionaire? You're in the right place."
One in five ultra-wealthy Americans, defined by having a net worth above $30 million, lives in California
It's more difficult in Sacramento to rub elbows with the super rich or find a job in high-tech than it is in the "wealth-generating cluster" of the Silicon Valley, according to WealthX, a company that tracks the super-rich. Stanford University, in Palo Alto, boasts 1,173 alumni with a net worth of more than $30 million — only Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have more.
What do you do in an ecosystem of human capital, venture capital, risk, an educational infrastructure, when you're passed over for a job because there are are too many competing college graduates or employers think you're over the hill, regardless of your skills, or the skills don't fit the needs of the company? Some people don't want a job, they want a career where they love what they do at 85 the same as they did at 25? If San Jose is a salad bowl of prosperity, then why are so many residents with college educations finding it tougher than ever to make it in the Silicon Valley?
Guess who's coming to the food banks?
If you look at the year 2007, before the recession began in 2008, nearly 10 percent of people seeking food had at least some college education. By 2013, after the recession supposedly is over, you have even more people, at least one in four college grads including those with some college education who line up at food pantries for bags of free food. Last year the share of households in Silicon Valley earning less than $35,000 rose two percentage points to 20 percent, according to the 2013 Silicon Valley Index. But it's not just an increase in the young job seekers lining up for free food. It's also a dramatic increase in senior citizens. And not only in Silicon Valley, in Sacramento as well are seniors lining up at food banks along with college graduates and young families who are hungry.
The problem is the disconnect between the wealthy of Silicon valley and other California cities and the general public, including the working poor with families to support, the retired people living in poverty, and others who wait in long lines to pick up a free bag of groceries every week at local food banks. They have no other choices and are hungry. The big picture is who can give these people who were the working poor and the retired, more choices?
If charity leaves the Silicon Valley, who helps the poor in Silicon valley?
The news articles report how Facebook's Zuckerberg gave $100 million to Newark N.J., public schools in 2010. But the news also notes that his $500 million gift to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation last year has yet to be designated. The Google Foundation donated about $11 million in 2011, according to its tax forms, largely to global environmental and health projects, according to media reports.
Numerous real estate developers are making money in Silicon Valley, and many don't have technical degrees dealing with computers or other gadgets. So wealth is not only going to those with high-tech educations. But competition is keen. The issue may be money going to other areas. How many people can find jobs as high-tech business analysts and make money at the profession? The average person is challenged. The issue becomes who's helping the watchers rather than who's watching the helpers? Silicon Valley has more jobs than it did at the height of the dot-com boom. Check out the articles by Martha Mendoza of The Associated Press reports. Poverty is on the rise.
You can look at how many people get food stamps and the reasons why they need them in Silicon Valley. You can research why homelessness rose 20% in two years, according to the annual Silicon Valley Index. The reason why people are getting poorer may or may not be due to the cost of living in Silicon Valley. People could move to other states who are hiring more people with the skills many people have.
San Jose boasts a median home price of $550,000. If a family of four in Silicon Valley needs about $90,000 a year in order to cover rent, food, transportation, and childcare, how much does one person need? And are people willing to move to other areas? Or are those in power interested in changing the cost of living in Silicon Valley? See, "Sandberg's hot-button book rings true for Silicon Valley women." Also you can check out research from the nonprofit Insight Center for Community Economic Development.
Why are Latinos averaging only $19,000 annual income in Silicon Valley?
The average income for Hispanics, who make up one in four residents in Silicon Valley, fell to an all-time low of $19,000 a year, according to the annual Silicon Valley Index. In the meantime, Silicon Valley's wealthiest are worth billions of dollars. Check out the research from the Economic Policy Institute. Is the economy getting better for those at the top of the pyramid and getting poorer for those at the bottom? If so, those interested in media and culture locally or nationally can ask why and look at the research since the research now has become the latest news.