Stateline Story

Texas, California and Georgia Lead In High-Tech Job Growth, Report Says

WASHINGTON -- The booming United States high-tech industry has created more than one million jobs since 1993 and provides a total annual payroll of more than $240 billion, according to Cyberstates 3.0, a report issued earlier this month by the American Electronics Association.

The report shows that the U.S. high-tech industry employed an estimated 4.8 million workers in 1998, with Texas, California, Georgia, Colorado and Washington leading the way.

From 1990 to 1997, Texas led the nation by creating more than 102,000 new high-tech jobs. California was second with 66,000 and Georgia third with 46,000.

The 1997 figures are based on the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 1998 figures are estimates based on comparability between 1997 and previous years.

"Texas has become a hotbed of telecommunications activity supported by a high-quality workforce. It's not surprising that technology companies now employ 54 of every 1,000 private sector workers in Texas," said Ed Grace, CEO of LanOptics, Inc. and chairman of AEA's Texas branch.

California led the nation in all but two industry employment segmentsTexas was first in data processing and information services employment. Virginia is the second largest employer of software services employees in the nation.

"The impact of the U.S. high-technology industry on the health of the American economy is nothing short of startling," said Edward Bersoff, AEA chairman. "The report demonstrates that the industry's growth goes beyond the traditional high-tech communities and, indeed, all but nine states created new technology jobs between 1996 and 1997."

The Cyberstates report also found that, in 1997, average pay for a worker in the high-tech industry exceeded $53,000. The average high-tech wage was 77 percent more than the average private sector wage.

Cyberstates 3.0 is the third annual report from the AEA, and for the first time includes national employment figures and wage trends for the high-technology sector. It also gauges the economic importance of the technology sector in each state by payroll, wages and exports. The report includes overviews for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, detailing growth figures and subsections of the high-tech industry's leading segments.

Among the report's employment findings:

  • California remained the nation's top state in terms of numbers of high-technology workers in 1997, with a record high 780,000 high-tech jobs. That number is up from 724,000 jobs in 1996. Compared with other states' job growth rates, however, the state lagged far behind. California's 9 percent growth rate in employment between 1990 and 1997 was far behind the leaders: Washington (59 percent), Georgia (54 percent), Colorado (43 percent) and Texas (37 percent).
  • South Dakota and North Dakota were the two fastest growing states by percentage growth in high-tech jobs, increasing that number by 172 percent and 91 percent respectively.
  • New Hampshire has the nation's highest concentration of high-tech workers with 82 high-tech workers per 1,000 private sector workers. Colorado was a close second in this category, with 80 high-tech workers per 1,000 private sector employees.
  • Georgia moved up the most places in the rankings from 1990 to 1997, going from 16th place in 1990 to 10th place in 1997.

Among the report's other wage statistic findings:

  • Washington led the states in high-tech workers' salaries, with an average wage of $81,000 in 1997. This was nearly three times the average private sector wage.
  • California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia were ranked second, third and fourth, with high-tech workers earning about $62,000 in each state.
  • High-tech workers in Virginia, Idaho, Vermont and California all earned more than twice that of other private sector workers in their respective states.

The report also uses merchandise export figures to gauge the relative strength of each state's high-tech industry. California was the leading export state, with $64 billion in exports in 1998. Texas was second, totaling $41 billion in 1998.

New Mexico experienced an astounding growth rate of 1,100 percent in high-tech exports from 1990 to 1997, jumping from $147 million in 1990 to $1.7 billion in 1998.

High-tech exports from Oregon increased 250 percent, and exports from Maine, Tennessee and Nevada all increased by over 200 percent.

"Despite all of these upbeat trends, one of the biggest challenges the electronics and information technology industry faces is ensuring an adequate supply of high-skilled labor to fill these new jobs," said Michaela Platzer, senior writer and researcher of the report.

The unemployment rate for electrical and electronic engineers is below 2 percent, she said, while the rate for computer systems analysts was 1.3 percent. AEA officials stress that the high-tech industry will only grow more and will require a greater pool of educated, technology savvy workers. A separate report by the AEA found that the number of Americans earning high-tech degrees fell 5 percent between 1990 and 1996.

Tags: Labor