IT Employment

Report shows healthy job growth in U.S. tech sector, but sends up a warning flare

The U.S. continues to produce a growing number of high-paying tech jobs, with the top locations being New York City, Silicon Valley, and Seattle, according to AeA's Cybercities report. Nevertheless, the report also points to a labor problem that could threaten America's tech leadership.

The U.S. continues to produce a growing number of high-paying tech jobs, with the top locations being New York City, Silicon Valley, and Seattle, according to AeA's Cybercities report. Nevertheless, the report also points to a labor problem that could threaten America's tech leadership.

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The American Electronics Association (AeA) has released its Cybercities 2008 report examining the high-tech employment market in 60 U.S. metropolitan areas. The data shows that the U.S. tech sector continues to grow and create more jobs, high tech jobs continue to pay very well, and that the U.S. remains in danger of losing its edge in technology because its schools are not producing enough workers with the right skills.

The full 144-page report is available online, but it costs $250 ($125 for AeA members), so we'll sum up the top points. Here's the AeA's description of what's in the report:

"It examines the nation's largest metropolitan areas focusing on high-tech employment, wages, establishments, payroll, employment concentration, and wage differential. The report also compares different regions of the United States and delves into the 16 sectors that comprise AeA's definition of the high-tech industry for these 60 cities."

It's important to note that the study is based on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics from 2006 -- the most recent full year that comprehensive data is available. The AeA also publishes its regular Cyberstates study, but this is the first time since 2000 that it has produced the Cybercities study.

Top takeaways

  • 51 of the 60 U.S. cities with the most tech jobs added more jobs in 2006
  • Average tech industry salary ($79,484) is 87% higher than average private sector salary ($42,405)
  • Total tech jobs increased 2.5% from 2005 to 2006
  • At the height of the dot com boom in 2001 the tech industry employed 6.5 million people, in 2006 that number climbed back to 5.8 million
  • The New York City metro area employed the largest number of high-tech workers with 316,500, Silicon Valley was second with 225,300, followed by Boston (191,700) and Dallas (176,000)
  • Silicon Valley had the highest concentration of tech workers with 286 high-tech workers per 1,000 private sector workers
  • Seattle added more tech jobs than any other city in 2006 with 7,800
  • Silicon Valley and Seattle still don't have as many tech workers as they did before the dot com bust
  • Detroit and Miami were among the cities that lost the most tech jobs in 2006

Risk of losing tech leadership

Even with the economic uncertainty in the U.S. in 2008, the AeA still sees strength in the tech industry. "The tech sector is not laying people off," said Christopher Hansen, chief executive of the AeA. "If anything, the industry is having trouble getting enough people with the right credentials."

That's where the Cybercities 2008 report turns to the bad news. There is a warning flare in the report that the U.S. could lose its leadership role in technology.

"Our public schools are not generating [enough of] the kinds of people who can go into engineering and math and compete," said Hansen. As a result, the U.S. could be adding more high-tech jobs but instead is losing them to other countries.

Hansen and the AeA believe that the U.S. educational problem is being compounded by the fact that the federal government does not offer enough work visas and green cards to foreign students who come to the U.S. to study at our universities and would then like to stay to work in the U.S. tech sector.

"We educate them and then tell them to go home. This is absurd," said Hansen.

As reported by the Associated Press:

"The AeA report stresses that continued tech sector growth is not guaranteed in today's global economy. To remain competitive, U.S. cities need to improve the quality of elementary and high school education — particularly in math and science — support research universities, and invest in broadband networks and other critical infrastructure. AeA argues that federal policymakers also need to invest more in research and development, while allowing more skilled foreign workers into the U.S. and promoting open trade policies."

We've been talking about the lack of math and engineering students and the failure of U.S. schools in math/sciences for over a decade and there has been a lot of lip service about improving the situation. I'd like to see if there is any research on whether the U.S. is making progress. If you know of any reports, please post the information and/or links in the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

32 comments
Questor1
Questor1

The "Report" discussed by Hiner is merely self-serving propoganda for large IT companies as they try to justify lower wages and hire H1-b and L-1 visa foreign workers. Colleges and Universities across the USA are graduating an excess of college students in IT and Engineering where many cannot find jobs in the IT industry due to unreasonable hiring demands and lack of training provided by employers. The IT industry has created a myth that there are not enough skilled IT workers so they can blame the US education system for not meeting employer demands. The real industry problem is that the IT sector is looking for "just in time" employees with expensive to maintain IT certifications that are willing to work at very low wages. Companies are currently not willing to train staff or new hires for the narrowly defined jobs that companies create. Many businesses fail to plan for the companies' future by not adequately training staff or prospective new-hires. While there may be a shortage of high-end IT super stars willing to work at low wages, there is an oversupply of mid and lower skilled IT workers already in the USA. Companies are often unwilling to re-train skilled IT employees due to the fallacy that is easier to hire someone outside the company than promote or retrain from within the company. Experienced IT pros may have difficulty finding IT jobs due to the backwash of foreign workers, graduates just entering the job market, and other IT pros trying to stay in the industry after company downsizing and layoffs. Age discrimination runs rampant in the IT industry and will continue to increase due to businesses creating unreasonable and possibly illegal work conditions for employment. It is ludicrous and embarassing for IT industry executives to falsely claim they cannot find skilled IT people to staff their open job positions when so many skilled IT pros are already available and "on the market". The skilled worker shortage that businesses claim exists is merely an excuse they misuse to obtain wage/tax concessions or outsource the IT job unless lower cost IT worker wages are obtained. Skilled and qualified IT workers are readily available in the USA, but not at the very low wages the computer industry wants to pay them. Pay rates are why there has been a large increase in the use and abuse of outsourcing H1-b and L-1 visa workers for low pay rates across the USA. As soon as an IT project is completed, that "just in time" employee is dropped like an unusable asset from future projects as the business shops for the next disposable employee at a low wage. This causes a rapid hire/fire job environment thrust upon workers and leads to a breakdowns in communication and trust between employers and workers.

zloeber
zloeber

You make many points, most of which I agree with. The definition of a skilled IT person has gone from, "can deploy computers and fix most issues" to "has 12 certifications, a masters in IT, has 15 years of experience in windows 2008 server, work with Solaris, Program PHP, and train monkeys. Plus, must be highly motivated with great communication skills." And yet they still want to pay you 40,000 a year for 80 hour work weeks? Anytime I see a job ad like this I know that the person writing it is thinking either: a.) No one will be able to meet this, they will have to approve my visa or b.) No one will sign up for that so I guess I'll have to hire my nephew.

sundarhp
sundarhp

You must be living in lala land if you think all the H1bs are getting paid 40K a year with 80 hr work week. I know plenty of people in my company that get paid well above the prevailing wage and on work visa. On top of paying the higher wages, they will also have to observe the visa fees, in the range of 20 to 20 K. Add all this up, one would rather hire an american, if only they could find the right one.

dm
dm

The school system is controlled by a union. Unions are not responsible for results. What do you expect to be different? The classes,books and course content is complete nonesense. It does not prepare the students for the real world and yet it doesn't change. Why? Why should it? The people who run the school system are not responsible for...? anyone? anyone? Results!

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

With the "Nobody Left Behind" schools have placed upon them... the only thing they now teach is... ready for this??? Only what is required to pass the tests put in place by state and, yes federal government. As far as a national regulatory body? ever hear of the NEA (National Education Association)? They help set the standards as far as what can or cannot be taught in a public school too. schools nowdays just teach to pass standardized tests, problem solving skills beyond that, take a back seat. (off-topic but related... minimize recess times, and then cry because students gain weight.) The only responsibility now-days for public schools is to pass out condoms [cheap shot? yes] and make sure they pass those tests, or face budget cuts.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

1. It's called "No Child Left Behind" and abbreviated NCLB. 2. There are no mandatory national standards; NCLB allows each state to set its own standards and write its own tests. This is why I'm glad my children went to school in South Carolina with some of the most rigorous standards in the nation and not Missouri or Arkansas, with some of the lowest. http://www.edexcellence.net/detail/news.cfm?news_id=358 3. The NEA is not a regulatory body, but one of two major teacher's unions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Education_Association 4. Cheap shot. If you wish to discuss education, spell "Daemon Slayer" properly. l337 is for script kiddies and juveniles, not for professionals.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The actual data for each state is contained in the pdfs (they're small, about 40kB). SC has an overall grade of B- for its 2006 standards; in 2000, the grade was B. These high standards are one of the reasons that SC appears to be doing poorly under NCLB. And yes, until the late 90s SC had the second-worst education system in the nation, just ahead of Mississippi. That has changed massively for the better.

pgm554
pgm554

dead last or close to it in terms of school standards and funding? In fact,isn't it so bad there,that in order to get good teachers ,you guys were subsidizing and paying off loans for teachers that would stay there and teach for a couple of years? I used to live in PA and we had far more credentialed teachers graduating than there were jobs for. I literally had friends that I went to college with,teach part time or substitute for 10 or 20 years before getting a full time teaching job. They moved to places like North/South Carolina,and Virginia and were just appalled at the teaching conditions. They lasted a year or two and said screw it,the kids don't want to learn and the school boards aren't into funding what it takes to get the job done. There are a lot of openings in low income schools,but the salary matches the settings. And you get what you pay for! The NEA like any organization,has good and bad points,but if not for them,the standards would would be even lower because of the politics involved with the school boards. It isn't what you know,it's who you know.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

1. I stand corrected on the name... It was late when I wrote the post. 2. I cannot argue about how low Arkansas ranks, However, I am just a transplant here, and did not get my education in Arkansas outside of my professional degree and cert. 3. The NEA still has agendas beyond looking out for their members... they might not be a regulatory body, but they sure have plenty of "suggestions" on what should and shouldn't be taught. 4. The ONLY reason my name is spelled that way is linked to my eMail provider the name is attached to. had to go |337 in spelling to get the name I wanted past the filters.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The schools in my area are controlled by school boards and state standards. Even where there is a union presence here, it has no control over curriculum or content. IMO, the problem traces back to one thing: the United States is the only major industrial nation with [u]no national standards[/u] for education.

QA.MERCURY
QA.MERCURY

I believe that the U.S. government does a great job to offer enough work visas and green cards to foreign students who come to the U.S. In my mid age I was able to requalify myself, reeducate and retrain in a new IT skills as to be able to stay in the U.S. tech sector with another 679,039 (1997) workers who landed great contracts in the country. I Disagree with Hansen: ???We educate them and then tell them to go home. This is absurd,???. - It is not absured - it is a perfect logical model for those who have desire and greater skills to be able to stay in the US IT industry.

tungstendiadem
tungstendiadem

An important question to ask is what really consitutes a proper math and science education in this country of fifty relatively autonomous governments. Often I see cited that the United States lags behind Japan, or Germany, or some other relatively small, and relatively homogenous nation in terms of math and science education. It really isn't fair to compare any nations on the scale of a state with the average of fifty states. Compare Germany to New York, California, or Vermont. Ultimately the states with the least need for science education are weighted into these averages and dillute the realtive strength of our education system. Not that I am opposed to any statistal slight of hand that might prompt action to improve our nation's competitiveness, but enough with the histrionics.

DrNickJr
DrNickJr

I think whomever wrote the masthead needs to familiarize themselves with the difference between the word FLAIR and FLARE!

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=754 We've been talking for over a decade about the inadequate numbers of math and science students in the U.S. and the poor quality of math and science education in many public schools. Have you seen any reports on whether the U.S. is making progress? If so, please post a link and/or summary of the findings.

NaughtyMonkey
NaughtyMonkey

it is getting worse. Schools are so worried about hurting kids feelings by failing those that don't cut it and pressuring those who could but are just lazy. My wife is a pre-school teacher and they are told the same things that all teachers are told, "Don't tell them they are wrong, don't tell them they are not doing good, etc..." They try to make it look like they are doing better by lowering the standards so the the lowest common denominator will get by. My son is 12 going into the 7th grade. He will be in 9th grade math and science, 8th grade English and Geography, and the other classes don't really have much of an equivalent advanced level in the schools. He also attends one of the top schools in our area. They have even talked about letting him skip 8th grade. Is it because he is brilliant? No. He is an extremely smart kid and he works very hard, but the material in his advanced classes two grades above are what I was learning at his age. The curriculum is getting dumber. There is also an abundance of students going to community colleges. Some have good programs, but they tend to be slack when it comes to high standards. I am taking a few classes at our local school to brush up on skills I feel I need and was banned from a message board for correcting another student's spelling and grammar. He already had 2 Associate degrees, yet he couldn't spell or speak even close to proper. It is all going downhill. I will focus on my kids, but at this point I have no hope for the US education system.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

prereq for Introductory classes is a 9th grade reading level. Pitiful. 2 years with us, they're up to an 11th grade reading level, which doesn't cut it if they want to continue at the University level. Not acknowledging failure and/or imposing consequence for that failure preps our kids to fail over and over and over again. edit the usual

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

in other posts. It was created in the 1970's to assist university students lacking comprehension and study skills in learning them. Originally put to use in Nursing and Med classes, it has expanded considerably over the last near 40 years, to the point it is now being implemented at the High School level. It strikes me that if K-12 was doing its job, the Supplemental Instruction program might not be necessary. SI info, if you're interested. http://preview.tinyurl.com/3zxabz

JCitizen
JCitizen

for history; that couldn't tell me who was on the one dollar bill(even though it is written right on it); didn't know the penny either. Seems like after the first two weeks in a semester an average class of 30 was reduced to 8 before it was all over with. Our secondary school system sure didn't do them any favors. I'm glad at least the college programs don't let substandard education creep into the formula. At least nowhere I've been.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

Bow to little Johnny!!!! Serve little Johnny!!!! he is god... he must be number one priority! Must keep little Johnny "happy" at all costs!!!! FORGET that little Johnny may fail to launch because of this, or that little Johnny will learn the hard way that he can't get his way always! Dr. Spock says what? BAH! never had a kid in his life, what did he really know?!?!?! Schools are more interested in making sure benchmarks are passed... Also nowdays... because of paranoia of hate-crimes and columbine incidents... gotta keep the truth from them and not help them correct their errs and failures, least they go postal in their school.

JCitizen
JCitizen

and I saw one of them on a TV documentary, admit he hated his dad!

javier.guzman
javier.guzman

[soapbox on] show me a role model for our kids whose main appeal is being a nerd. if the masses continues valuing athletes and celebrities above scientists and engineers, how can we expect to have more kids actively pursuing those careers [soapbox off]

swheeler
swheeler

If the US wants more science and math students in its universities it needs to start paying for it. My degree choices have been directly related to how much it was going to cost me and if I could make a living to support myself while I was in school. I quit both engineering and physics degrees because the class schedules would not allow me to work enough to pay my living expenses. Because the business department offered night classes I switched to a management information systems degree so I could work full time days and keep a roof over my head and pay medical expenses. You want another engineer or esoteric high tech worker? Pay for my training and I'm fully committed to the cause. As it is my mortgage is twice the amount of my student loans. Half of a house in exchange for an undergraduate degree? Not a good deal if you ask me!

acontreras208
acontreras208

l'm agree with you Swheeler, I'm into the computer engineer program (4 yrs), and it's very hard to pay for school, be a good worker, and have a family. However, when you turn 30's is hard to get a scholarship. Just for you have an idea, some of my classes cost around $500.00 plus books ($70-500) and other materials; and I pay everything myself, and if you add the cost of living, it's hard. I would be so happy to get a scholarship in my 33th birthday.

sundarhp
sundarhp

Add English to the list , haha :-)

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

Jason, I would like to thank your editing to ensure that "flare" was spelled correctly on your article, even if it was not so in the email notification (flair). For a second there I was having flashbacks to the movie "Office Space" because I was afraid I wasn't wearing enough "flair"....