Saturday, January 24, 2009

Biz break: Valley jobless rate climbs to 7.8 percent; California rate up to 9.3 percent

The Silicon Valley region shed 6,100 jobs in December and the unemployment rate jumped to 7.8 percent — the highest in six years — with part of the damage taking place in the retail trade sector, state employment officials reported today.

That's up from 7.2 percent in November, the first month since July that the region posted a monthly loss of jobs. The last time there were this many unemployed in Santa Clara and San Benito counties was December, 2002, according to state Employment Development Department labor market analyst Janice Shriver.

The valley now has 910,600 workers, down from 921,600 a year ago and 916,700 in November.

The EDD also released job figures today for the state. California's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate grew to 9.3 percent; nationally, the rate was 7.2 percent during the holiday season.

Barrett stepping down: Craig Barrett, the 69-year-old chairman and former chief executive of Santa Clara computer-chip giant Intel, will retire from the company in May at the firm's annual stockholder meeting, Intel announced today.

Jane Shaw, who joined the Intel board in 1993, will replace Barrett as the board's chairperson. But unlike Barrett, she will not also have day-to-day responsibilities for helping manage the company, said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.


Barrett, who joined Intel in 1974 and served as chief executive officer from 1998 through 2005, said in a prepared statement issued by the company that he was fortunate to have been able to work at Intel with such industry legends as Bob Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove.

Southwest triggers sales on late-winter fares: Major airlines moved today to match a fare sale started by Southwest Airlines, as the carriers worry about weak demand for travel during a recession.

Southwest said that through Monday it would sell seats to almost everywhere it flies starting at $49 to $99 each way. Tickets must be bought at least 14 days before flying, travel must be completed by March 11 and seats are limited, the airline said.

AMR's American Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways Group and JetBlue Airways matched the Southwest prices, officials at those carriers said. UAL's United Airlines has its own fare sale that began on Jan. 16, said spokeswoman Robin Urbanski.

Delta Air Lines also appeared to match the Southwest move. Delta posted a system wide fare sale on its Web site that runs through Monday — same as the Southwest sale. A three-day sale by AirTran ended Thursday night.

Silicon Valley tech stocks:

Up: Cisco, Genentech, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Yahoo

Down: Exponent, Spansion and Varian Medical

The tech heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 11.80, or 0.81 percent, to 1,477.29.

The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 45.24, or .56 percent to 8,077.56.

And the Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 4.45, or .54 percent, to 831.95.


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