When I wrote this post circa 2008, the beginning of the recession, the unemployment rate in Wyoming (6.8%) was lower than in Silicon Valley.
Things have changed from eight years ago. In November 2016, Wyoming unemployment dropped to 4.6% while California overall was 5.3%. However, if you lived in San Francisco or San Jose (The Bay Area), you would have enjoyed a very low 3.7% economy.
Enjoy this flash from the past as you transport yourself back to 2008, the beginning of the long recession.
Wyoming’s slower economic growth, less dependence on technology and adoption of green energy have kept its unemployment rate at 6.8%.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts concluded that the American Clean Energy and Security Act, passed early this year to stimulate clean energy growth, will create $150 BILLION in investments nationwide. Wyoming is looking forward to 4,000 new jobs based on renewable energy sources.
Although Wyoming, like other upper Midwest states, typically loses young people to urban areas of other states, the national recession has kept more of them on home turf. In fact, most of the state’s population increase is due to young adults staying put.
25% of Wyoming’s economy, based on mining, contributes the largest percentage of property tax revenues. Clean energy job growth increased 56.4% from 1998-2007, while the coal industry held its on.
In dire economic times, you’d think the least populated states, with only a few major industries, would have the highest unemployment rates, while larger states the opposite. Not so in our current recession.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, the land of milk and honey, we’re suffering. Unemployment isn’t a problem if you’re a software programmer. But manufacturing and service jobs have moved overseas. AI is taking over. What are we doing wrong? Can we learn something from Wyoming?
From Orchards to Silicon Valley
The majority of California residents, including my Mom and other relatives, flocked to the state after World War II. Santa Clara County, famous for its orchards and truck farms, got mowed down with concrete to make room for “economic expansion.” Those promoting the county’s growth–mostly small business owners elected to the San Jose City Council–promoted uncontrolled growth.
Like ravenous wolves, some of the best and brightest came to Silicon Valley, started or joined new and eventually successful companies. Along with the best and brightest, however, flowed quick-buck artists, Wall Street types whose only aim was making a killing and getting out. We grew fast. Too fast. Everyone wanted a part of the action and we allowed it.
As growth continued in the 50’s-90’s, more people came for their share of the milk and honey. We became known for start-up companies. Many grew quickly. Many failed. But the gold rush was on. Being an entrepreneur was next to godliness.
The population continued increasing–too fast, too furious, unsustainable. Credit flowed. Families bought houses. 30-year mortgages. Go Silicon Valley. Go 49’ers. Don’t slow the train. No time to get off.
Sprint forward to the early 21st century–the dot-com boom. Entrepreneurs clinging to the Internet which could do no wrong. Start-ups rising without a business model. A few years of prosperity. Then, BOOM. Dead in the water. Layoffs. Re-orgs. Back to semi-sanity, rare in a land of silicon chips.
Wall Street Greed Rears Its Ugly Head
Time warp to 2008. Greed takes over the mortgage and banking industries. Lots of sub-prime. Lots of head turning. Home equity drops like a roller coaster in Santa Cruz. Foreclosures in the making.
Zip forward to this year. More ravenous wolves on Wall Street. Big banks go bonkers, dicing and slicing mortgages, untraceable to their sources. Wall Street greed goes global. AIG and other insurance companies reveal secrets from the lion’s den. Panic. Stock market crashing. Sub-primers hiding their heads. Foreclosures. Credit freezes. Banks too scared to loan to their brethren. Fed steps in.
Back in Silicon Valley. Tech sales plummet. Who needs computers and software in a recession? Re-orgs. Layoffs. Buy-outs. Bankruptcy. Unemployment rising like a thermometer on a hot July day. St. Nick misses Christmas, as consumers clutch their wallets.
Flash forward. Stock market rising. Dow near 20,000. Wall Street back to its norm. Big bonuses flowing again to the undeserving. Obama gives speeches about greed.
Would this have happened if Congress and the White House had been in Cheyenne, Wyoming?