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These Are the 15 Cities With the Most High-Tech Jobs

Mar 19, 2015

The United States’ GDP of $16.3 trillion in 2014 was the highest in the world, due in large part to the strength of U.S. industries. However, all industries are not equal in terms of their contribution to economic output.

While the U.S. economy is among the world’s strongest, however, other countries continue to invest in education, technology, innovation, and other industries that invigorate economies, and the U.S. is falling behind. The percentage of U.S. workers employed in what the Brookings Institution calls “advanced industries” has fallen from 11.6% in 1980, to 8.7% in 2013. While this was a slight improvement from 8.4% in 2010, the need for a resurgence in the nation’s most important industries is more pressing than ever.

The Brookings Institution identified 50 advanced industries. To be considered advanced, an industry’s research and development spending must exceed $450 per employee, and the proportion of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) workers must be above the national average, or more than 21% of all employees. Mark Muro, senior fellow and policy director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, explained that companies within these advanced industries “patent a lot, generate innovations that flow through the economy, export heavily,” and partly as a result, “pay well and tend to have long supply chains.”

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the metropolitan areas with the highest percentages of workers employed in advanced industries. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area leads the nation with 30% of its workforce employed in such jobs. These are the cities with the most high-tech jobs.

Click here to see the cities with the most high tech jobs.

Advanced industries contribute considerably more to economic output than other industries, and these industries accounted for even larger shares of economic output in the 15 areas with the highest concentrations of advanced jobs. While advanced industries accounted for 17.7% of all U.S. economic output in 2013, they contributed more than the national share in all but one of the 15 metros on our list. In the San Jose metro area, advanced industries accounted for 47.5% of economic output, the highest such contribution among large U.S. cities.

Average wages among workers in these industries also tend to be far higher than in other types of jobs. Nationwide, the average wage for an advanced industry worker was $89,300 in 2013 versus the average for all workers of $50,130. Earnings among both cohorts were far higher in the 15 metro areas with dense concentrations of advanced industries. Average wages among advanced industry workers in eight of the 15 areas were well above $100,000 in 2013.

Advanced industry jobs’ wages also grow faster than all wages. In fact, average wages in advanced industries have risen nearly five times as fast as those in the overall economy since 1975.

According to Muro, the strength of advanced industries also lies in the range of educational requirements for workers. While wages tend to be far higher across the board in these industries, many of these jobs do not require especially high levels of education. Muro said, “as a whole, these 50 [advanced] industries are surprisingly accessible.” Brookings estimates that fully half of jobs available in the advanced industry do not require a bachelor’s degree.

The diversity of both workers and the types of advanced industries is essential for the prosperity of these areas. As Muro explained, such diversity creates “regional ecosystems,” in which “firms are surrounded by a web of relationships that allow them to compete efficiently.” Companies seek out these areas. “If regions didn’t matter, these industries would be distributed equally across the country,” Muro said.

In fact, advanced industries are clustered in specific locations. The West Coast, for example, where four of the most densely concentrated advanced industries are located, is a major hub for innovation and technology. According to Muro, the West Coast has developed both its advanced manufacturing and high-end services, computer system design software, and research and development activities. In addition, many of these cities have very high qualities of life and have become “centers for migration among millennials.”

To identify the 15 metro areas with the most high-tech jobs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of workers in each of the country’s 100 largest metro areas employed in advanced industries from the Brookings Institution’s February 2015 report, “America’s Advanced Industries: What They Are, Where They Are, and Why They Matter.” The contribution to gross metropolitan output (GMP), an area’s most dominant industry within the advanced industry classification, average wages for advanced workers, and total workforce also came from the Brookings report. We also looked at educational attainment rates, poverty rates, and the percentage of area residents with health insurance from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey (ACS). Unemployment rates are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and are as of November 2014, the latest period for which non-preliminary data are available.

These are the cities with the most high-tech jobs.

15. Salt Lake City, UT

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 11.1%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 16.5%
> Annual avg. wage: $48,780
> Largest advanced industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services

More than 11% of Salt Lake City’s workforce was employed in advanced industries in 2013, the 15th highest share among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas. According to the Brookings Institution, advanced industries are characterized by “deep involvement with technology research and development and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers.” The area is one of three urban regions with densely concentrated advanced industries in Utah, a testament to the state’s diversified high-tech economy. The average venture capital deal was worth more than $9 million in the state in 2013, the seventh highest among states. In Salt Lake City, venture capital tech start-up investments totalled $275 million during the first nine months of last year, one of the largest such investments compared to other metro areas, according to the Associated Press. Investment in technology is a major contributor to the prosperity of advanced industries.

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14. Ogden-Clearfield, UT

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 11.3%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 20.5%
> Annual avg. wage: $40,180
> Largest advanced industry: Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing

Most of Ogden-Clearfield residents working in advanced industries were employed in motor vehicle parts manufacturing. Aerospace product manufacturing was a close second, employing 3,570 area residents. Activity in the region’s advanced industries accounted for 20.5% of the area’s total economic output in 2013, one of the highest contributions. However, the presence of such industries did not raise wages as much as in other large metro areas. The overall average wage in the Ogden area was $40,180 in 2013, nearly the lowest compared to other large metro areas. Among advanced industry workers, the average wage was $60,580. This was also one of the lowest wages compared to wages among advanced industry workers in other cities, although it was higher than the national average wage of $50,130.

13. Raleigh, NC

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 11.7%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 23.4%
> Annual avg. wage: $51,630
> Largest advanced industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services

As in most areas with high concentrations of advanced industries, Raleigh metro area residents were very well educated. Nearly 44% of adults in the area had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, the sixth highest proportion among large metro areas. The presence of large universities nearby such as Duke University, North Carolina State, and the University of North Carolina helped raise educational attainment rates and likely contributed to the high density of advanced industries. The largest advanced industry was computer systems design and related services, with 14,780 employees in 2013. From 2010 to 2013, employment in the area’s advanced industries grew at an annualized rate of 5.2%, the 16th fastest growth rate and nearly double the growth rate for the nation. Raleigh’s unemployment rate of 4.3% in November was also one of the lowest rates among large metro areas. The regional growth is good news for the nation as a whole. At the beginning of the year, President Barack Obama called Raleigh the newest U.S. high-tech manufacturing hub.

12. Provo-Orem, UT

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 12.0%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 23.2%
> Annual avg. wage: $39,940
> Largest advanced industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services

Over the first nine months of 2014, there were nine venture capital tech startup investments in the Provo metro worth a total of $462 million, according to the Associated Press. The level of investments in the area, as in other regions in Utah, is beginning to rival the levels in traditionally dominant tech centers such as Silicon Valley and the Boston region. The contribution to total economic output from the area’s advanced industries grew at an annualized rate of 7.2% between 2010 and 2013, nearly twice the comparable national growth rate, and the 12th fastest among large metro areas. Similarly, employment in advanced industry grew 5.9% per year, the 13th fastest among large metro areas. The unemployment rate of 3.0% in November was nearly the lowest nationwide. While the regional economy is very strong, wages remain relatively low. The average wage among all residents was less than $40,000 in 2013, nearly the lowest. The average wage among advanced industry workers was $70,990, also lower than wages of such workers in other areas.

11. Austin-Round Rock, TX

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 12.1%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 24.9%
> Annual avg. wage: $53,510
> Largest advanced industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services

The economic output from advanced industries in the Austin-Round Rock metro area has grown at a healthy pace since at least the 1980s. Between 1980 and 2013, the industry’s economic output grew at an annualized rate of 9.9%, three times the comparable national growth rate and the highest rate among large metro areas. The economic output of all industries in the Austin area grew at an annualized rate of 5.7% between 1980 and 2013, also the fastest such growth rate among all large metros. Computer systems design and related services employed 21,690 area residents in 2013, the most compared to other types of advanced industries. Companies operating in these fields had a large pool of well educated residents in the area. More than 41% of area adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, the eighth highest attainment rate. The region is also home to the University of Austin, a large research institution and a major employer, with 21,000 employees.

10. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 12.3%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 21.2%
> Annual avg. wage: $58,850
> Largest advanced industry: Scientific Research and Development Services

In 2013, 12.3% of the workforce in the San Diego-Carlsbad metro area was employed in advanced industries, the 10th highest share among large metro areas. By contrast, 8.7% of the nation’s workforce was employed in such industries. The largest advanced industry in the area is involved with scientific research and development services. The area is home to the University of California San Diego, one of the area’s largest employers and a major research institution. Communications firm, Qualcomm, is headquartered in San Diego and is also among the region’s largest employers. Like most metro areas with high shares of advanced jobs, San Diego workers are on the whole relatively well compensated. The average wage was $58,850 in 2013, 12th highest among large metro areas and well above the average national wage of $50,130 that year.

9. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 12.8%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 38.4%
> Annual avg. wage: $63,880
> Largest advanced industry: Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services

The average wage among advanced industry workers in the Houston metro area was $121,220 in 2013, fourth highest compared to their peers in other large metro areas. The high wages in the industry helped raise the average overall annual earnings to nearly $64,000, seventh highest among large metro areas. Advanced industries tend to contribute more to economic output than other industries, and this was especially true in the Houston area. Advanced industries accounted for 38.4% of total GMP in 2013, the third highest advanced industry contribution among large metro areas. The largest industry within the advanced sector was architectural, engineering and other services followed by oil and gas extraction. The University of Texas presides in Houston, as well as one of Lockheed Martin’s engineering facilities. Both are among the region’s largest employers.

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8. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 13.3%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 22.8%
> Annual avg. wage: $67,370
> Largest advanced industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services

As in other cities with prominent advanced industries, Boston metro area residents are relatively well educated. Nearly 45% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, the fifth highest share among large metro areas. Perhaps as a result, residents were also well paid. The average wage among all workers was $67,370 in 2013, the sixth highest average wage reviewed. Higher earnings among advanced industry workers helped raise the average wage as well as the percentage of households with especially high incomes. Ten percent of area households had incomes of at least $200,000 in 2013, the sixth highest share among large metro areas and twice the national proportion. Like Massachusetts as a whole, Boston area residents also had exceptionally high health insurance coverage. Just 4.2% of residents did not have health insurance in 2013, nearly the lowest among large metro areas.

7. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 13.4%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 21.7%
> Annual avg. wage: $47,350
> Largest advanced industry: Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing

Unlike most areas with strong advanced industries, residents of the Palm Bay metro area do not have especially high wages. The average wage among all residents was $47,350 in 2013, one of only five top 15 metro areas where wages were lower than the national figure of $50,130. While many of the areas with the most advanced jobs reported especially high annual GMP growth rates from 2010 to 2013, the Palm Bay metro area reported a decline in economic output of 1.5% over that period, nearly the worst decline. Audio and video equipment manufacturing companies were the largest advanced industry employers in the area. Advanced industries also contributed largely to economic output in 2013, accounting for nearly 22%.

6. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 13.7%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 19.9%
> Annual avg. wage: $68,370
> Largest advanced industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services

No large metro area had a higher percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree than the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria region, where nearly 49% of adults held such a degree as of 2013. Strong educational attainment likely contributed to the strong advanced industry presence. Computer systems and design companies were the most prominent advanced employers, employing nearly 200,000 people in the area in 2013, one of the higher nominal figures. The prevalence of high-paying advanced industry jobs helped raise incomes for all residents. The average wage for all residents of nearly $70,000 in 2013 was nearly the highest nationwide and considerably higher than the national figure of $50,130. Nearly all the areas with dense concentrations of advanced industry jobs have at least some manufacturing presence. In the Washington metro area, however, advanced industry activity is nearly all service-related.

5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 14.0%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 24.7%
> Annual avg. wage: $80,960
> Largest advanced industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services

The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area is one of three top California metros for advanced industry presence. In 2013, 14% of the San Francisco metro area’s workforce was employed in research and development and STEM worker intensive professions, the fifth highest share among large metro areas. Area residents in such positions had high wages, even among advanced industry workers in other areas. The average wage among advanced industry workers in the area was $157,700 in 2013, second only to the comparable figure in the San Jose metro area. The presence of the University of California, which is one of the largest employers in the Bay Area as well as a contributor to the area’s well-educated population, also accounts in part for the advanced industries. More than 45% of area adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, the fourth highest proportion among large metro areas. By contrast, less than 30% of adults nationwide were college educated.

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4. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 14.8%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 24.8%
> Annual avg. wage: $53,300
> Largest advanced industry: Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing

Unlike nearly all of the nation’s densest concentrations of advanced industry activity, the Detroit metro area is located east of the Mississippi. And while most other areas reviewed tended to have especially strong computer and engineering-related industries, the Detroit area’s advanced industry is found primarily in motor vehicle parts manufacturing. Advanced industries accounted for nearly one-quarter of all of the region’s economic output in 2013, the ninth highest contribution from advanced industries among large metro areas. While advanced industries tend to require higher levels of education, the auto industry is frequently an exception. Detroit metro area adults were less likely than most Americans to have at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013. Yet, the area still benefited from the presence and growth of advanced industry jobs. Advanced industry jobs in Detroit grew at an annual average rate of 7.4% between 2010 and 2013, the third fastest growth rate among large metro areas. Economic output from advanced industries in the area grew 7.0% annually, the 13th fastest such growth rate among large metros.

3. Wichita, KS

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 15.5%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 27.4%
> Annual avg. wage: $44,410
> Largest advanced industry: Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing

Most of the areas with high concentrations of advanced jobs have a very diverse array of advanced industry jobs. However, Wichita is exceptional as its economy is almost exclusively dependent on the aerospace product and parts manufacturing sector. The sub-industry had nearly 30,000 employees in the area, while the second, third, fourth, and fifth largest sub-industries classified as advanced each had between just 1,000 and 3,000 employees. Advanced industry jobs in Wichita have grown and continue to contribute substantially to economic output. The industry’s average wage of less than $74,000 in 2013, however, was lower than the national wage figure for advanced industries.

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2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 16.0%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 32.6%
> Annual avg. wage: $63,180
> Largest advanced industry: Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing

Like a number of other metro areas with densely concentrated advanced industries, the Seattle region is on the West Coast, a hotbed for what the Brookings Institution calls “regional economic ecosystems.” These areas tend to attract innovative businesses and young, educated Americans, among other boons for local economies. Like the Wichita area, Seattle’s advanced industries are dominated by aerospace product and part manufacturing. However, other firms in advanced industries, such as software publishers and computer systems design companies are also very prominent. Each sub-industry employs tens of thousands of workers in the region. The advanced industries accounted for nearly a third of all economic output in the area, a higher share than in all but a handful of metro areas.

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

> Advanced industries, share of employment: 30.0%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 47.5%
> Annual avg. wage: $101,640
> Largest advanced industry: Computer Systems Design and Related Services

In 2013, 30% of San Jose metro area workers were employed in advanced industry jobs, by far the highest among all large metro areas and more than three times the national share of 8.7%. The region is home to Silicon Valley, a technology sector powerhouse, both in terms of output and wages. The computer systems design and semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing industries were the first and second largest advanced industries in the area. Activity in these industries is driving the considerable labor growth rates in the region. Advanced industry employment grew at an annualized rate of 4.1% between 2010 and 2013, well above the comparable national rate of 2.7%. The area’s total employment grew by 3.6% each year over that period as well, the fourth fastest such rate among large metro areas. Workers were also exceptionally well paid. The average annual wage in 2013 for all area workers and for those employed in advanced industries was $101,640 and $183,950, respectively, both by far the highest nationwide.

For the original list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

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