According to the American Electronics Association (AeA), the high-tech industry continued growing in 2006, adding nearly 150,000 net jobs for a total of 5.8 million in the United States -- up 2.6 percent from 2005.
California ranked atop the list for technology jobs, employing far more, offering higher wages, and attracting more venture capital than any other state. The AeA, a trade association that represents the high-tech industry, relied on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to compile its 10th annual "Cyberstates" report.
William T. Archey, president and CEO of AeA, said he is pleased to see the tech industry rebounding, and noted that this is the second year in a row in which the industry has added jobs. "Not only do these jobs make critical contributions to the U.S. economy, but they also pay extremely well," Archey said in a statement.
High-Tech, High Wages
Indeed, the average tech industry wage is 86 percent more than the average U.S. private sector wage. In fact, in 48 cyberstates the average high-tech wage is at least 50 percent more than the average private sector wage, and in 10 cyberstates the difference is over 90 percent, according to the AeA.
An examination of the sectors reveals that the high-tech manufacturing industry added 5,100 net jobs in 2006. Software services and engineering and tech services employment were up in 2006 for the third year in a row, increasing by 88,500 jobs and 66,300 jobs, respectively. Only the communications services industry continues to struggle, losing 13,300 net jobs in 2006.
On a state-by-state basis, Cyberstates 2007 indicates that tech employment gains occurred in 40 states in 2005, the most recent data available. The last year that so many states saw this much tech job growth was in 2000. While it is no surprise that California led the nation in net job creation, Florida saw the second largest gain, adding 10,900 tech jobs in 2005. This is the second year in a row that Florida was among the top five states by tech employment creation.
Peter Woolford, Boston I.T. and Engineering Search market manager for Kforce, a publicly traded professional staffing firm in Boston, said it's not difficult to find tech workers. Rather, he said, companies are "spoiled" by past market conditions that offered tremendous talent for reasonable salaries.
"You can't get a perfect skills match for reasonable wages anymore. Those people are no longer available," Woolford said. "But you can find a good blend of talent, with closely matching skill sets -- for higher money."
Venture Capital Factor
The report also found that after dropping slightly in 2005, venture capital investment in the technology industry rose by $285 million to $12.7 billion in 2006. High tech accounts for half of all venture capital investments in the nation. R&D expenditures by high-tech companies jumped by 22 percent in 2004, the most recent data available, totaling $70.6 billion, a record-breaking amount of R&D.
"The economy is good and there is a lot of venture capital and private equity money available to help companies get started and to help them grow," said Peter Polachi, managing partner at Framingham-based technology recruiter Polachi & Co., an executive recruiter with clients including MessageLabs, Lotus Development, and Lycos.
Polachi pointed to a rising demand for C-level positions with a revenue-generation focus -- such as , marketing, and business development -- in the technology world.
The AeA's Archey said he is encouraged by the rise in tech employment, but noted there are some serious challenges ahead -- namely long-term recruiting prospects. This was reflected in the 2.5 percent unemployment rate for computer scientists and the below 2 percent unemployment rate for engineers in 2006.
"This problem is twofold: the lack of American kids enrolling in and graduating from math, science, and engineering programs, and a U.S. high-skilled visa system that is broken," Archey said. "This April, within two days of the start of taking applications, the U.S. government received 133,000 applications for 65,000 H-1B visas -- those visas reserved for high skilled individuals. And this is for jobs starting in October of 2007."