In a stagnant economy, many are still looking for well paid jobs in Silicon Valley. If the high-tech sector did not get hit as hard as in 2001 after the Internet bubble burst, the effects of the 2009 financial crisis are more profound as unemployment numbers continue to be close to double digits. And California's chronic budget problems are making things worse in a State that hoped to be protected from a double-dip recession, which is looming now.
Apart from high-profile but limited success stories in social media, Silicon Valley has struggled to create new jobs, especially in cities like San Jose that are more known for hardware compared to San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that the smart electric grid yields jobs. Would the promise of a green economic recovery announced two years ago finally come to reality? Energy is a very large market and the thought of making the electric grid more efficient with smart meters and data analytics is very attractive. Moreover the current grid would not be able to support the load of electrical vehicles if they were massively adopted today.
Last week, smart grid stake-holders including utility and start-up representatives met at the Smart Energy International conference held near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. The mood was positive but the tone was more cautious. The encouraging employment news drew on a report commissioned by the Silicon Valley Smart Grid Task Force to show the importance of the smart grid sector in the growing cleantech industry. Unfortunately, the results of the report are premature -- the study only took into account jobs created from 2008 to 2009 -- and actually show a more complex picture. That is the most interesting part.