California added jobs faster than the rest of the nation over the past year. Tech firms are showering riches on Silicon Valley, and home prices are soaring in places like Palo Alto. The Golden State is rebounding, but for a broad swath of residents, it is a lot less golden and is likely to stay that way.
Even in Silicon Valley, many aren’t joining the revival. Tech companies are thriving, but only after shifting much work elsewhere. Internet-software experts are in demand; middle-aged semiconductor executives aren’t.
Among the thriving are people like Pete Curley, who, in six years in Silicon Valley, has twice sold social-networking applications for healthy sums. The recently married 27-year-old is considering buying a home in the region’s pricey market. By contrast, Pat Fasang, who says that he is older than 50, was laid off from a six-figure marketing post at a semiconductor firm last year and says that the Internet firms hiring today have no interest in him. In more than 20 years in Silicon Valley, he has never been out of work this long. “I’m beginning to feel hungry,” he says.