On April 2, the American Electronics Association (AeA) released 148 page report on high tech employment trends in the U.S. called Cyberstates 2008: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry. The report showed that the overall number of high tech jobs in the U.S. increased by 91,400 (1.6%) to 5.9 million during 2007, and that all but four states increased high tech jobs.
However, the 91,400 for 2007 was less than the 139,00 high tech jobs that the U.S. added in 2006. The study looked at all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The four who had a net loss of IT jobs in 2007 were:
- Michigan (-1500)
- Puerto Rico (-1100)
- Delaware (-900)
- Colorado (-900)
For Colorado, it was the second straight year of losing tech jobs. It has especially been hurt by losses in the telecom industry. Meanwhile, Michigan has predictably been hurt by trouble in the auto industry.
The four states who created the most high tech jobs in 2007 were:
- Texas (+13,000)
- Virginia (+9,800)
- New Jersey (+8,500)
- New Mexico (+6,700)
Virginia had the highest concentration of tech workers with 91 per every 1,000 private sector jobs. The top four changed slightly from 2006 when California, Florida, New York, and Texas led the way. Virginia was fifth in 2006.
In terms of which states had the highest paid techies, here were the top four:
- New Jersey
The picture was also different depending on which industry you looked at:
- Software services industry added 82,600 jobs
- Engineering and tech services industry added 45,800 jobs
- High tech manufacturing industry lost 29,800 jobs
- Semiconductor industry lost 12,500 jobs
- Communications services industry lost 7,200 jobs
Other findings from the report included:
- Unemployment is below two percent in many high tech occupations
- Venture capital in high tech was up by six percent to $16.9 billion
"While we are certainly pleased to report that the technology industry added jobs nationally and across nearly every state, national tech growth slowed in 2007, making the story good but not great," said Christopher Hansen, CEO of AeA. "These are the types of jobs every state wants to attract, the labor market remains tight, with unemployment rates below two percent across many tech occupations."
Matthew Kazmierczak, an AeA analyst in Washington, said, "The overall findings are that high-tech employment is up for the year, adding nearly 100,000 jobs. Though the growth itself is down slightly from 2006, the market is still extremely tight for those who are qualified. Companies having trouble finding qualified workers might be what is slowing down growth."
Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing at Yoh Services (a talent firm in Philadelphia), told eWEEK, "We measure wages every quarter and we noticed that wages peaked in October. They continue to grow at a year-over-year rate but the rate of increase was smaller there. The unemployment rate [in] certain IT and engineering roles is still 2 to 3 percent, very low, and well past full employment. Right now this is a vertical, or industry-driven recession. If you're in [the] financial services space or housing, you'll feel a squeeze. But it hasn't spread yet to other IT areas."
If you'd like the read the full AeA report, you'll have to purchase it. Here's a look at the Table of Contents. The report costs $250 for non-AeA members and $125 for members, and it can be purchased and downloaded online.
The AeA also noted that it has two other reports on the U.S. high-tech industry that are "forthcoming ":
- Cybercities 2008: An Overview of the High-Technology Industry in the Nation's Top 60 Cities
- Trade in the Cyberstates 2008: A State-by-State Overview of High-Tech International Trade
Bottom line for IT leaders
This is the latest in a series of mixed signals about the U.S. economy and how it relates to IT. At the end of last week, we published two pessimistic reports: Job security in IT plummets in February and March marks third consecutive month of job losses. Meanwhile the AeA data, which appears very reliable, provides a more upbeat picture on how tech is doing. While the overall economy will certainly have a downward pull on the tech industry and high tech workers, the latest data makes it look like IT won't be caught in the vortex like it was during the last downturn.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.