Massachusetts Tech Jobs, Investment Growing—But Not Fast Enough?

It’s a time of big economic and political changes in the Bay State. Massachusetts has a new governor, Boston has a relatively new mayor, and the University of Massachusetts will have a new president, to name just a few transitions.

So it’s also a good time to take stock of where the local technology industry stands in terms of job growth, talent pool, wages, investment, and other metrics. To that end, the Mass Technology Leadership Council has released a broad “State of Technology” report and is convening its annual meeting in Boston today, in part to discuss the findings.

In 2010, the trade association laid out an ambitious proposal with the goal of adding 100,000 new tech-related jobs in the state by 2020. One conclusion of today’s report: the job market has made progress, but it needs to pick up the pace—and there is a shortfall in available talent to fill positions in information-technology companies.

Here are a few highlights and challenges pointed out in the MassTLC report:

—From 2010 to 2013, Massachusetts added 17,650 jobs in high-tech. That figure fell short of the goal of 25,000-plus for that period. The total number of jobs increased from 197,000 to 214,650.

—Tech-related jobs make up 19 percent of the state’s total workforce, the highest percentage in the nation. The average annual tech salary is $121,000, which is second to California. Tech companies pay $7 billion in state and local taxes.

—The main challenge of the labor pool is training, attracting, and retaining talent (no surprise there). The report points to efforts to improve K-12 education in science and tech; university efforts to build entrepreneurship and business skills; university-company partnerships and internship programs; and federal immigration policy issues.

—There has been much progress in startup incubators and accelerators: In addition to MassChallenge, Techstars, Bolt, LearnLaunch, Greentown Labs, and others in the Boston area, the state has seen the rise of entrepreneurial facilities in Worcester, Springfield, Holyoke, Hopkinton (MetroWest), Lowell, Lawrence, and other communities.

—From 2011 to 2014, there were 722 venture investments made in Massachusetts tech companies, totaling $4.86 billion, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

—From 2010 to 2014, Massachusetts saw 587 of its companies get acquired, as compared to 196 of its companies making acquisitions. (The 3-to-1 ratio is stark but not that surprising—think big buyouts of Endeca, Acme Packet, Zipcar, Kiva Systems, and many more.)

—In the same period, there were 9 tech-company IPOs, including HubSpot and Wayfair last year.

—The report named biotech, big data, information security, and Internet of Things as a few of the state’s key growth sectors in the years to come.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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