May 3, 2010 By Hilton Collins
High-tech jobs abound in the U.S., but they aren't as plentiful as they used to be, according to employment data from the past few years. This finding holds true in research released April 28 by TechAmerica Foundation, a technology research and advocacy foundation.
Its report, Cyberstates 2010: The Definitive State-by-State Analysis of the U.S. High-Technology Industry, divulged national and state-by-state trends in technology jobs and wages, finding that 2009 saw 5.9 million high-tech jobs, down 4 percent from 2008's 6.1 million. Researchers mined data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) from 2008 and 2009, the two most recent years that have been studied, and analyzed them for the government and private-sector audience.
The report offers high-tech wage and employment for all states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico and compares how the high-tech sector is succeeding compared to the rest of private industry. But those interested in government wage data, high-tech or otherwise, are out of luck -- the report only contains information about the private sector.
Nevertheless, Josh James, director of research and industry analysis for TechAmerica, feels that the information could prove interesting for government leaders who want to know how technology plays a role in their states.
"That's very valuable for state policymakers and members of Congress from different states to look at what's happening in the state -- how important the tech industry is to their state," James said.
The report provides data for the high-tech sector in general and also for 15 different subsections: computer and peripheral equipment and manufacturing, photonics manufacturing, communications equipment manufacturing, Internet and telecommunications services, consumer electronics manufacturing, software publishers, electronic components manufacturing, computer systems design and related services, semiconductor manufacturing, engineering services, space and defense systems manufacturing, research and development and testing labs, measuring and control instruments and manufacturing, computer training, and electro-medical equipment and manufacturing.
California leads in every sector in terms of employment in 2008 within these categories except for two: software publishers and computer training. The five states that gained the most high-tech jobs in 2008 were California, Texas, Washington, Massachusetts and Virginia. Most of the national data is from 2009.
"We gather the data from the BLS, and that's partly why you'll notice that the state data is a little bit behind the national data, and that's just because it takes longer for the state agencies to collect that and filter it up to BLS, and then we gather it from them," James said.
Phil Bond, TechAmerica's president and CEO, said in a company press release that federal leaders could boost the country's high-tech industry by enacting an innovation agenda that would put the brightest minds in the country to work, which would support the creation of high-tech jobs nationwide.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.