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Cyberstates 2016: Technology Job Growth Best in a Decade

The technology sector in the United States once again experienced steady growth in 2015 compared to the previous year. So says a leading tech industry group in its annual look at the state of U.S. technology. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) in its Cyberstates 2016 study, tech sector jobs grew three percent in 2015. That represents just short of 200,000 jobs across the country. CompTIA estimates the tech industry now accounts for 6.7 million American jobs. After dropping slightly during the Great Recession, tech employment has risen slowly each year since 2010.

The sector is composed of companies that create, develop and distribute technology products. Positions would include everything from computer sales professionals to software developers for private companies.

More populous states, such as California, Texas, and Florida, accounted for the most growth in terms of numbers of jobs added. However, smaller states also saw improvement in 2015. “You do see a few new states added to the mix. Utah, Idaho, North Carolina, on a percent change basis, had some of the fastest growth rates,” says Tim Herbert, senior vice president of research at CompTIA. All but five states reported adding tech sector workers last year.

Factors responsible for growth

Herbert says several factors are driving job growth. For example, unemployment continued to drop in 2015; consumers were spending at a solid pace, which created demand for tech products and services; and healthy innovation the past several years has introduced new ways to use technology. That has generated demand for tech workers as small, medium, and large companies try to leverage advancements for their businesses.

“Some of the areas that experienced the strongest growth include software developers, cyber security professionals, data professionals, and then also categories that are sometimes overlooked,” Herbert says. He offers IT support services as a good example. Businesses are adding more devices, platforms and operating systems. That has built up demand for tech specialists who can support them. The biggest trend has been in cloud computing as businesses migrate from on premise data centers and infrastructure. The trend requires technology professionals who can provide deployment, integration, customization, and other services.

However, the cloud is not the only jobs driver. Adapting to mobile capability is also important, because businesses, driven by their customers, need developers to make their web pages and software more responsive for smartphones and tablets. Cyber security is also spurring employment as businesses and organizations require help in managing risk associated with potential attacks.

Good news for manufacturing

The Cyberstates study also offers good news for tech manufacturing, which had been bleeding jobs for several years. Although manufacturing gains were small (3,700) in 2015, it may point to the beginnings of a more stable period. In the previous two years of the study, manufacturing dropped nearly 45,000 jobs. By comparison, IT Services increased by more than 105,000 jobs in 2015. Manufacturing now accounts for just over 1.1 million jobs in the United States. Within that tech category, the largest percentage gain was in computer and peripheral production, which rose 3.7 percent over the previous year.

Revenue generated through technology products and services is a significant part of the U.S. economy. CompTIA estimates the technology sector makes up about 7.1 percent of overall GDP and 11.6 percent of total private sector payroll. In Oregon alone, 20 percent of the economy is attributed to the technology sector.

Strong outlook

The Cyberstates study also gauged payroll, and it concludes the average tech sector wage is about $105,000 annually. That is a 1.2 percent increase over the previous year. The annual wage is a little more than half the national average wage for private sector jobs. Better numbers may be to come in 2016. CompTIA reports a nearly 30 percent increase in job postings in the last three months of 2015 compared to the fourth quarter of 2015. “This is really just a signal of ongoing demand for tech talent of all types,” CompTIA’s Herbert says.

Looking farther into the future, Cyberstates 2016 projects just under 600,000 new jobs in the technology sector from 2014 to 2024. That would represent an 8.1 percent increase. The biggest rise would be among web developers at more than 26 percent. That job description is followed by biomedical engineers at 23.1 percent.