Party Like It’s 2006: Seattle Ranks #1 in Tech Job Growth (and #9 in Tech Employment); Boston Ranks #6 (and #4)

6/24/08Follow @gthuang

The tech scene here is on the move. In comparison to other U.S. cities, Seattle has had the largest growth in tech jobs, and has moved up to #9 (from #10) in total number of tech workers. By comparison, Boston ranks #6 in number of jobs gained and #4 in total tech employment.

That’s all according to the American Electronics Association’s “Cybercities 2008″ report that compiled stats from 60 cities. The AEA rankings were based on labor stats from 2006, the most recent data available, and were not normalized to population. In terms of raw number of tech workers, the top five metro areas were New York, Washington DC, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Boston, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

In 2006, the Seattle area had a net gain of 7,800 tech jobs, a 7 percent increase over 2005, for a total of 127,700 jobs. The average wage for those jobs was $96,200 (#5 nationally, compared to $95,100 for Boston—no slouch itself). Seattle ranked first in software publishing (thanks largely to Microsoft) with 42,600 jobs, ninth in telecom with 18,800 jobs, and ninth in manufacturing of measurement and control instruments with 6,400 jobs. The area had a total of 4,900 high-tech establishments—as compared to 8,200 in Boston—according to the survey.

Some (including me) have questioned whether the 2006 growth stats are still relevant in 2008. The experts I’ve talked to say the answer is definitely yes—at least for the Seattle area. “My sense is there has not been a slowdown,” says Seattle-area Web entrepreneur and Xconomist Andy Sack. “I saw the article on the #1 fastest growing… and my thought was, well that explains why recruiting has been and continues to be so difficult.”

A word of caution, though—echoing University of Washington computer scientist Ed Lazowska’s Xconomist post from yesterday. “Future growth depends on our ability to make high-tech careers attractive to our children,” said J. D. Hammerly, a vice president at Battelle Seattle Research Center, in an AEA press release. “We need to spark more excitement and enthusiasm for technology, sciences, and math. These skills are critical to prepare young students for an increasingly technical world, providing them with the foundation to become highly paid tech workers.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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