On Tuesday, non-profit IT trade association CompTIA published the results of its Cyberstates 2016 report, and the findings are good news for tech workers. According to the report, employment in the tech industry hit its highest growth rate in more than a decade.
In 2015, tech employment in the U.S. hit 6.7 million people for companies with formal payroll in place, up roughly 200,000 from the year prior. Additionally, there were 1 million self-employed or sole-proprietorship tech workers in the U.S. that year.
This marks the fifth year of consecutive growth for the industry, with tech accounting for 7.1% of the U.S. GDP and 11.6% of total overall payroll in the private sector. CompTIA's report lists the growth of tech employment at 3% year over year (YOY), compared to the national employment growth average at 2.1% YOY in 2015.
The tech industry now employs more people than many of the biggest industries in the U.S., including construction, finance, insurance, and vehicle equipment manufacturing. However, tech is a rather generic term, so let's break it down by subset.
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IT services led the growth, adding 105,400 jobs last year, meaning it accounts for more than half of the overall job growth in tech in 2015. That brought the total employment of IT services to 2.2 million, which CompTIA attributed, in part, to "high growth rates in custom computer programming services and computer systems design services."
Engineering services, R&D, and testing were next in terms of growth, adding 48,100 jobs in 2015. This sector now totals 1.7 employees, with growth tagged at 2.9%.
In third place was the telecommunications and internet services subsectors, adding 35,700 employees for a total of 1,324,700. Software came in fourth place with 5,300 employees added—its sixth consecutive year of growth—and tech manufacturing added 3,700 new employees.
Wage growth, however, was a different story in 2015. Annualized average wages for the tech industry were $105,400 in 2015, up $1,200 from the previous year. To put that number in perspective, the average annualized wage in the private sector in 2015 was $51,600, less than half of the tech industry average.
Software employees took the award for highest average pay at $142,500, but that only grew 0.6% from the year before. Tech manufacturing was next in line in terms of wages at $108,100 in 2015, but it experienced a higher wage growth at 1.2%. Telecom was the lowest paying at $99,200, but it had the highest growth at 1.9% between 2014 and 2015.
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Total tech payroll in the U.S. for 2015 was $708 billion, up $28.8 from 2014, adjusted for inflation. The tech payroll accounts for nearly 12% of all private sector payroll in the US. In terms of individual subsectors, IT services had the largest average payroll at $232,100.
The report also broke the tech industry's growth down by state. California leads in tech employment, wages, payroll, and in number of establishments. Texas and New York were both top five in terms of employment and growth, and Massachusetts and Washington made it into many of the top five lists as well.
The report also detailed the top five states in terms of percent of women employed in the tech industry. Washington DC lead with 39.5%, South Dakota was next with 38.7%, Mississippi had 38.4%, Wisconsin brought 37.2%, and Nebraska rounded out the top five with 37.2%.
If these trends continue, there's no doubt that the tech industry will continue as a sought-after career field in the U.S.
You can download the full 112-page report here.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- US tech employment hit 6.7 million people after hitting its strongest growth rate in more than a decade. This is good news for tech employees, as it signifies stability in the job market.
- IT services led the growth, so interested job-seekers might look to that subsector if they are in the market. Software led wages, which may mean increased competition for software jobs moving forward.
- Total tech payroll grew in 2015 as well, with IT services having the largest average payroll. IT leaders need to plan their budgets wisely for the coming year, taking into account the growing need for resources in IT.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.