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High Tech Jobs

Summary: A new jobs report shows where high-tech jobs are moving.

The report does a poor job defining what a "high tech job" is; it seems to be a job in the tech sector, but does that include the administrative people working for Intel? My sense is that they include engineers, technicians, and manufacturing workers in the technology sector.

The state with the highest proportion of high-tech jobs isn't California; it's Washington (the state, not the hot-air factory nestled between Maryland and Virginia), with 11.4% of all private jobs in the tech industry. MA, VA, MD and CO all have a higher percentage of tech workers than California, though no metro area can match Silicon Valley's 28.8% figure.

CA also doesn't make the top ten list of states in technology employment growth; little Delaware is number one with a 12.8% year-to-year increase. Boise experienced 83% growth in just a year! No employment figures are given; since going from a single worker to two represents a 100% gain it's not clear how meaningful Boise's number is.

Later in the report the authors do discuss uniquely STEM jobs, and show that between 2002 and 2011 these experienced 16% growth, compared to 0.6% for all other kinds of employment. Physical and life sciences exploded by 40%. "Computer and math sciences" (whatever that is) increased 23% during that decade. "Engineers" were lumped into one group regardless of discipline (civil, EE, etc); employment grew by a tiny bit (numbers aren't given). Is that due to a lack of supply or a lack of demand? CEOs lobbying Congress about immigration claim the former, and so want to open the H-1B floodgates. More or less stagnant salaries argue the opposite.

What about the future? The authors look at the increase in demand for, rather than supply of, STEM workers, and figure a need for an additional 1.3 million STEM folks by 2020.

Appendices list wages by state and metro area for the poorly-defined high-tech workers. California wins at $121k, which suggests that lower-earning support people aren't included in the averages. West Virginia and Kentucky both tie for last place at $60k, half the income of the more prosperous states. MA, NJ, VA, WA and my home state of MD all score in the six figures.

The report paints with a very broad brush. But the key takeaways are that technology continues to thrive in this country, and the work is no longer confined to a couple of key areas, but is migrating all over the country.

Published May 13, 2013