• More than half of all service-sector jobs on Silicon Valley are held by minorities
  • The labor pool represents about $538 million a year in income
  • The loss of those jobs could have a sweeping impact on the regional economy

White-collar jobs in California’s Silicon Valley are relatively secure, though the largely-minority blue-collar workforce might not be so fortunate.

A report Thursday from advocacy group Silicon Valley Rising finds nearly 50% of the security officers, 70% of the cafeteria workers and 71% of those working in janitorial services are Black or of Latin American descent.

“If tech companies make the decision to permanently lay off those workers — perhaps replacing them with new, lower-paid contractors when campuses eventually re-open — the region may see long-term, even permanent increases in racial income disparities, housing access, and potentially acceleration of the already severe displacement crisis,” the report states.

The advocacy group estimates that roughly 12,000 of these blue-collar workers get some form of health care coverage through their jobs, something that could disappear with layoffs. The direct economic impact of this workforce, meanwhile, is roughly $538 million per year.

To date, the group found that most of the companies in Silicon Valley kept blue-collar workers on the payroll, particularly those that have unionized. Many of those same companies don’t expect their offices to reopen until mid-2021 and may be looking to trim their blue-collar payrolls, however.

California is not the only state in the union where racial disparities in the workforce exist. Amazon faced a class-action lawsuit filed by a former worker in New York who claimed termination was on racial grounds.

Nation-wide on economic segments, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds the average unemployment rate for adults in October was around 6.6%, though it was close to 11% for Blacks and 8.8% for those of Latin American descent.

People eat in the cafeteria at the Google campus near Venice Beach, in Los Angeles
People eat in the cafeteria at the Google campus near Venice Beach, in Los Angeles Reuters