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High-Tech Industry Weathers Recession

Despite a loss of nearly a quarter-million jobs in 2009, the high-tech industry fared better than the overall U.S. job market. That's the finding of TechAmerica Foundation's newly-released report, Cyberstates 2010: The Definitive State-by-State Analysis of the U.S. High-Tech Industry. The report is the group's 13th annual report that identifies national and state trends in high-tech employment, wages and other economic factors.

The report covers all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and relies on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report provides 2009 national data on tech employment as well as 2008 national and state-by-state data on high-tech employment, wages, establishments, payroll, wage differential and employment concentration. In 2009, the U.S. high-tech industry job market declined by four percent, with a loss of 245,600 jobs for a total of 5.87 million workers. The decline follows four years of steady growth, the report states. The overall U.S. job market declined by about five percent, according to TechAmerica, a non-profit, non-partisan industry group aimed at promoting the high-tech industry. Comparing unemployment percentages also puts the high-tech industry in a better position than the general private sector. While unemployment rates did rise in 2009 across all tech occupations listed in the report, the rates were much lower than the total private sector 2009 unemployment average of 9.3 percent. And computer and information systems managers, engineering managers, computer software engineers, database administrators, and aerospace engineers all managed to keep unemployment below 5 percent. Job losses were reported in every sector of the high-tech industry. Of the 245,600 jobs lost, 112,600 were in manufacturing; 59,000 were in engineering and tech services; 53,000 were in communications services; and 20,700 were lost in software services.

The high-tech manufacturing sector was the hardest hit. Breaking it down even further, the electronic components manufacturing sector fared the worst with a loss of 37,100 jobs while the semiconductor manufacturing sector lost 25,400 jobs. The space and defense systems manufacturing sector lost only 1,200 jobs. Despite the job losses, high-tech workers continue to out-earn workers in other industries, according to the report. High-tech wages were 86 percent higher on average than wages in the private sector at large --- $84,400 compared to $45,400. But high-tech wages did drop a bit; according to the report workers were paid an average wage of $84,400 in 2008 (the most recent wage data available), which represented an inflation-adjusted decline of 2,000, or 2 percent, from 2007. The best-paid high-tech workers were software publishers, earning an average wage of $116,000, the report says.

As for the states with the best high-tech employment outlook, California stood out. The West Coast state had 993,300 tech industry workers in 2008, more than twice as many as second-ranked Texas (492,400), and more than three times as many as third ranked New York (312,300). Florida and Virginia ranked fourth and fifth, with 292,300 and 283,400 respectively, in 2008. California also gained the most jobs between 2007 and 2008, adding about 15,800. Texas was right behind, adding about 14,600. For four years running, had the biggest high-tech employment concentration, with 95 tech workers per 1,000 private sector workers in 2008. The country's highest paid tech workers in 2008 were in California, Massachusetts, Washington, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. Average wages among all states ranged from a high of $105,500 in California to a low of $40,700 in Puerto Rico.

TechAmerica Foundation is focused on educating industry executives, policymakers, and opinion leaders on the promise of technological innovation to advance prosperity, security, and the general welfare, according to the group's Web site. It has about 1,500 member companies of all sizes from both the public and commercial sectors. Representing approximately 1,500 member companies of all sizes from public and commercial sectors. It was formed by the merger of AeA (formerly the American Electronics Association), the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA), the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), and the Government Electronics & Information Technology Association (GEIA).