High-tech jobs migrate

A December 2012 report (“Technology Works: High-Tech Employment and Wages in the United States”) offers yet another look at high-tech employment.

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. Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado all have a higher percentage of tech workers than California, although no metro area can match Silicon Valley's 28.8% figure.

California 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, Idaho 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 showthat between 2002 and 2011 these experienced 16% growth, compared to0.6% for all other kinds of employment. Physical and life sciencesexploded by 40%. “Computer and math sciences” (whatever that is)increased 23% during that decade. “Engineers” were lumped into one groupregardless of discipline (civil, EE, etc); employment grew by a tinybit (numbers aren't given). Is that due to a lack of supply or a lack ofdemand? CEOs lobbying Congress about immigration claim the former, andso want to open the H-1B floodgates. More or less stagnant salariesargue 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 additional1.3 million STEM folks by 2020.

Appendices list wages by state and metro area for the poorly-definedhigh-tech workers. California wins at $121k, which suggests thatlower-earning support people aren't included in the averages. WestVirginia and Kentucky both tie for last place at $60k, half the incomeof the more prosperous states. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia,Washington, and my home state of Maryland all score in the six figures.

The report paints with a very broad brush. But the key takeaways arethat technology continues to thrive in this country, and the work is nolonger confined to a couple of key areas, but is migrating all over thecountry.

Jack G. Ganssle is a lecturer and consultant on embedded developmentissues. He conducts seminars on embedded systems and helps companieswith their embedded challenges, and works as an expert witness onembedded issues. Contact him at . His website is.

7 thoughts on “High-tech jobs migrate

  1. Seriously? Boise the home of HP Laser Printer Div, Micron Tech,Healthwise, Bodybuilding.com, Crucial.com, ClickBank, MobileDataForce, MarkMonitor, Sybase, Balihoo, Intracon NA,[28] Wire-stone.com, MetaGeek, and Microsoft.

    Sounds like more than just a few

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  2. The statement “More or less stagnant salaries argue the opposite” is a gross oversimplification. Sure, market prices set by supply and demand is a basic fundamental economic principle. And I also agree that it is highly important factor in labor markets as

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  3. Is anyone surprised that California is not on top as a percentage? Perhaps on a population basis it would be.

    Silitcon Valley is just a tiny part of California. California has more lawyers than STEM people, same too for low-wage agricultural workers.

    I a

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  4. Boise has been in the high tech industry since the mid-70's. HP developed disk drives and printers. Micron Technologies is a Boise company as well. There were several third party companies there which developed and manufactured cartridges for the early HP

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  5. Jack humorously highlights what the report does not mention, for eg. “..No employment figures are given; since going from a single worker to two represents a 100% gain,”.

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  6. Health care cannot be exported easily (A nurse in India can't touch/take care of an American patient in US, although your X-Ray may be diagnosed offshore). High tech jobs are exportable. One of my American friends, husband is an engineer and wife is a phys

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