Tech job boom means plenty at stake from big earthquake on Hayward fault

The Bay Area’s job boom has intensified the economic calamities that could be unleashed by a big earthquake along the Hayward Fault in the East Bay, federal officials warned on Monday.

“The exposure has risen due to more businesses in the most risky areas,” according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The technology industry in the Bay Area must confront a significant amount of that exposure.

The hazards were particularly acute in areas that make up Silicon Valley and include big job hubs in the Bay Area, according to the study.

“There has been a lot of growth in Santa Clara County and the East Bay,” said Richard Holden, assistant commissioner for regional operations in the Bay Area office of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “There has been employment growth, payrolls are higher, there are more businesses.”

An estimated 101,000 Bay Area businesses with a total payroll of $150 billion and 1.5 million jobs would be exposed to a “destructive shaking zone” from an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 on the Hayward Fault, the new study estimated.

A 2007 study estimated that 87,000 businesses with a total payroll of $100 billion would have been affected at that time. The number of workers affected was about the same at 1.5 million.

The zone of destruction from a major earthquake on the Hayward Fault would contain 51,000 businesses in Alameda County, 26,000 in Santa Clara County, 15,000 in San Francisco, and slightly over 4,000 businesses in both Contra Costa County and San Mateo County, the BLS research estimated.

While fewer businesses would be impacted in Santa Clara County than in the East Bay, the wages potentially lost would be far higher in the South Bay than in Alameda County.

“The technology industry would be affected significantly,” Holden said.

The annual wages of the employees in the potentially impacted areas would total $56.4 billion in Santa Clara County. That’s 38 percent of the total $150 billion wage hit for the entire Bay Area.

Even Alameda County, where the Hayward Fault runs, would have a smaller amount of wages impacted by a quake, $38.4 billion, the labor researchers estimated.

“We live in earthquake country,” said Annemarie Baltay, a research geophysicist, with the U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park. “The utility of this forecast is you can take small steps to be more prepared in your business.”


Above: U.S. Geological Survey image of the Hayward Fault as it runs through the Oakland-Berkeley area.


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  • hoapres

    We don’t have a tech job boom.
    Peddle that nonsense somewhere else.
    Thank You.