Tech jobs are expanding all over America in unexpected places, according to analysis from Mark Schill, research director at Praxis Strategy Group, published on NewGeography.com. Looking at a 12-year period, starting in 2001, Schill looked at job creation trends in the nation’s 52 largest metropolitan areas. Software, engineering, and computer programming service jobs were examined, in addition to STEM jobs in other industries.
Surprisingly, the two areas with the most tech growth are far from the Bay Area, the birthplace of Silicon Valley. They are located in the southern half of the nation, in places with relatively low costs of living and friendly business climates.
In first place is Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas. Tech companies in the area have expanded their employment by 41 percent since 2001 and the number of STEM employees has risen by 17 percent over the same period. Best known as the hometown of Dell, the report credits Austin’s quality of life as well as its affordability for its tech success. A multitude of big-name West Coast tech companies have located in the area in recent years, including AMD, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Oracle.
Ranking second is Raleigh-Cary, N.C., for many of the same reasons as Austin. A large college metro area, Raleigh-Cary has seen a 54.7 percent increase in tech-sector employment levels since 2001, as well as a 24.6 percent rise in STEM occupations. Contributors to the growth are global companies including IBM, GSK, Syngenta and Cisco.
There has also been significant growth in the Bay Area during the period covered in Schill's analysis, although the news has not been universally positive. The southern Silicon Valley (San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara), for example, started out strong in the early 2000s, but has struggled to continue that initial momentum.
In terms of future tech growth, Silicon Valley can never be discounted due to its unique concentration of engineering expertise. Another safe bet seems to be Seattle, with its lower housing and energy costs.
An even bigger trend to expect, however, is dispersion. Smaller, more spread out communities with affordable living costs should see increases in tech density and sophistication. Schill's analysis points to Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Fla., Kansas City and Denver as cities to watch. For more information on the analysis, visit NewGeography.com.