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 months.”

California workers filed 129,700 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday. That was down 38,500 from the prior week.

Last week’s totals were the lowest since 57,600 California workers filed for unemployment benefits during the week ending on March 14, when state and local government agencies began to impose business shutdowns to combat the coronavirus.

Nationwide, 712,000 workers filed or unemployment benefits during the week that ended on Nov. 28, which was down 75,000 from the prior week.

But more business shutdowns loom. On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new regional stay-at-home order that will force additional restrictions in any of the five regions of the state where fewer than 15% of intensive care units remain available. Some regions could meet that standard in the next few days, Newsom said.


In the most recent round of tech layoffs, according to official filings that the state Employment Development Department posted in November:

— Hitachi Vantara said it was eliminating 148 jobs in Santa Clara.

— Boston Scientific said it is closing an office in Menlo Park, resulting in job cuts for 126 workers.

— Marvell Semiconductor is cutting 120 positions at its head offices in Santa Clara.

— PayPal is cutting 56 jobs at one of its sites in north San Jose.

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