Unemployment claims drop, but Bay Area tech firms prep layoffs

SAN JOSE — Unemployment claims in California fell to their lowest levels since coronavirus-linked business shutdowns began in March — but a few Silicon Valley tech companies and at least one big services firm that caters to the tech sector have prepped new layoffs.

In November alone, Hitachi Vantara, Boston Scientific, Marvell Semiconductor and PayPal have revealed plans for job cuts in Silicon Valley, according to official state filings.

Despite the improvement in unemployment claims in California, the tech industry layoffs and weekly jobless filings that remain far higher than what is typical are disquieting reminders that the economy in the state and the Bay Area remains feeble.

“The California economy is in a suspended state,” said Michael Bernick, a former director of the state Employment Development Department and an employment attorney with law firm Duane Morris. “There is little new hiring and no economic uptick over the past two

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SNAP benefits cost a total of $85.6B in the 2020 fiscal year amid heightened US poverty and unemployment

<span class="caption">Some states make it possible to use SNAP benefits at farmers markets.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://newsroom.ap.org/detail/Food%20Stamps/ed0313b0c8e84f22a80bcbb9851f07df?Query=food%20AND%20stamps&mediaType=photo&sortBy=arrivaldatetime:desc&dateRange=Anytime&totalCount=706&currentItemNo=33" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty">AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty</a></span>
Some states make it possible to use SNAP benefits at farmers markets. AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

The government spent a record US$85.6 billion on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the fiscal year ending in September. This sum, included in an October Treasury Department report, was about 35% higher than the $63.5 billion the federal government spent in 2019.

Spending on this state-administered program, which helps struggling families put food on the table, typically rises and falls in tandem with unemployment and poverty. Along with unemployment insurance, SNAP is one of the most responsive programs in a recession. The most vulnerable families can get benefits within seven days of applying.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, SNAP spending had been steadily declining since a 2013 peak of nearly $80 billion following the Great Recession. But as the COVID-19-triggered economic crisis hit, monthly spending more than doubled, from $4.9 billion in February to

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