Scraping by on six figures? Tech workers feel poor in Silicon Valley’s wealth bubble
– Guardian UK
Big tech companies pay some of the country’s best salaries. But workers claim the high cost of living in the Bay Area has them feeling financially strained
“I didn’t become a software engineer to be trying to make ends meet,” said a Twitter employee in his early 40s who earns a base salary of $160,000. It is, he added, a “pretty bad” income for raising a family in the Bay Area.
The biggest cost is his $3,000 rent – which he said was “ultra cheap” for the area – for a two-bedroom house in San Francisco, where he lives with his wife and two kids. He’d like a slightly bigger property, but finds himself competing with groups of twentysomethings happy to share accommodation while paying up to $2,000 for a single room.
“Families are priced out of the market,” he said, adding that family-friendly cafes and restaurants have slowly been replaced by “hip coffee shops”.
Silicon Valley’s latest tech boom, combined with a housing shortage, has caused rents to soar over the last five years. The city’s rents, by one measure, are now the highest in the world.
The prohibitive costs have displaced teachers, city workers, firefighters and other members of the middle class, not to mention low-income residents.
Now techies, many of whom are among the highest 1% of earners, are complaining that they, too, are being priced out.
The Twitter employee said he hit a low point in early 2014 when the company changed its payroll schedule, leaving him with a hole in his budget. “I had to borrow money to make it through the month.”
He was one of several tech workers, earning between $100,000 and $700,000 a year, who vented to the Guardian about their financial situation. Almost all of them spoke only on the condition of anonymity, or agreed only to give their first names, fearing retribution by their employers for speaking publicly about their predicament.
‘The American dream is not working out here’
Complaints from well-compensated tech workers will sound like chutzpah to many of the other 99% who are struggling to get by on a fraction of their income. But there appears to be a growing frustration among tech workers who say that they are struggling to get by.
Facebook engineers last year even raised the issue with founder Mark Zuckerberg, asking whether the company could subsidize their rents to make their living situation more affordable, according to an executive at the company who has since departed.
The cost of housing is a common complaint among Bay Area techies. Engineers can expect, according to one analysis, to pay between 40% and 50% of their salary renting an apartment near work.
One Apple employee was recently living in a Santa Cruz garage, using a compost bucket as a toilet. Another tech worker, enrolled in a coding bootcamp, described how he lived with 12 other engineers in a two-bedroom apartment rented via Airbnb. “It was $1,100 for a fucking bunk bed and five people in the same room. One guy was living in a closet, paying $1,400 for a ‘private room’.”
“We make over $1m between us, but we can’t afford a house,” said a woman in her 50s who works in digital marketing for a major telecoms corporation, while her partner works as an engineer at a digital media company. “This is part of where the American dream is not working out here.
Another tech worker feeling excluded from the real estate market was 41-year-old Michael, who works at a networking firm in Silicon Valley and last year earned $700,000. Sick of his 22-mile commute to work, which can sometimes take up to two and half hours, he explored buying a property nearer work.
“We went to an open house in Los Gatos that would shorten my commute by eight miles. It was 1,700 sq ft and listed at $1.4m. It sold in 24 hours for $1.7m,” he said.
Although he said his salary means he can afford to live a decent life, he finds the cost of living, combined with the terrible commute, unpalatable. He’s had enough, and has accepted a 50% pay cut to relocate to San Diego.
“We will be unequivocally better off than we are now.” He said he won’t miss some of the more mundane day-to-day costs, like spending $8 on a bagel and coffee or $12 on freshly pressed juice.
Michael isn’t the only tech worker considering leaving Silicon Valley in search of a better life. A Canadian IT specialist in his late 40s, earning more than $200,000, has a similar plan. “When I came to the Bay Area the amount of money they were going to pay me seemed absurd,” he said. However, the cost of rent and childcare, which cost “more than I paid for my university education in Canada”, has been hard to swallow.
Sam, 40, lives with his wife and three kids in San Jose, earning around $120,000 a year at a multinational software company. “I get paid a very good wage, but I have three kids, childcare is ridiculously expensive so my wife mostly takes care of them,” he said.
He feels pressure being the sole breadwinner. “I’ve got no safety net,” he said. “I have credit cards, but this is not sustainable. If something bad happened I’d be out of the house in a month.”
…..Continue reading @ the Guardian
UC San Francisco Lays Off IT Workers, Jobs Head To India
“SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The University of California, San Francisco on Tuesday laid off 49 information technology (IT) employees and outsourced their work to a company based in India, ending a year-long process that has brought the public university under fire.
The university announced the plan last July as a way to save $30 million over five years. The University of California system, which includes health care and research-focused UCSF, has been struggling to raise revenue and cut expenses.
Globalization and outsourcing have become hot-button political issues in the United States, as more employers cut costs by farming out work to low-cost workers in far-flung parts of the world. President Donald Trump campaigned on promises to restore lost U.S. jobs and to penalize companies that move factories overseas.
This was the University of California’s first outsourcing, said a spokeswoman who added that the layoffs were necessary due to rising costs of technology. In addition to the 49 staff layoffs, another 48 positions that were vacant or filled by contractors were eliminated.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein last year said the university had a responsibility to keep jobs in the United States and pledged to seek reforms to stop domestic jobs being outsourced.
Kurt Ho, 58, a laid off systems administrator, carried a box of his personal items with an American flag draped over it, and said the university’s decision will hurt service for a medical staff that relies on a smoothly running and secure computer network.
“It’s a downgrading of services and a slap in the face for the customers,” said Ho, who has worked in IT in the Bay Area for 25 years. He said he plans to look for a job but worries that outsourcing of IT services is a growing trend.
Last year UCSF entered into a $50 million contract over five years with India-based HCL Technologies Ltd to do the work.”
….Continue reading @ OANN