Jacksonville, Fla., and Columbus, Ohio, are two of America’s hidden hotbeds of technology. Forbes measured employment growth in the sectors most identified with the high tech economy (including software, data processing and Internet publishing), as well as growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related (STEM) jobs across all sectors for the past decade in the 51 largest metro areas. The surprises:
  • Salt Lake City places fourth with a 31 percent spurt in tech employment over the past 10 years. Companies such as Adobe, Electronic Arts and Twitter have put offices there in search of lower taxes, a more flexible regulatory environment and lower housing prices.
  • Baltimore placed fifth with 38.8 percent growth in tech jobs and 17.2 growth in STEM. Some of this is clearly spillover from federal spending in Washington. The regional  tech complex has substantial employment in computer systems design, custom programming and private-sector research and development.
  • Jacksonville placed sixth with a 72.4 percent surge in tech employment and 17.4 percent STEM job growth since 2001. Most results from a boom early in the decade in data centers, computer facilities management, custom programming and systems design.
  • Columbus placed eighth and benefits from being affordable and business friendly. The Ohio state capital has enjoyed 31 percent growth in tech jobs over the past decade.
  • Raleigh placed ninth, with Forbes describing it as a “relatively low-cost, low-hassle winner,” expanding its tech employment by 32.3 percent in the past decade.
Where is long-term job growth stalling out? Would you believe Silicon Valley?
The Valley at the end of 2011 employed 170,000 fewer people than in 2000. Most of the job losses came in manufacturing, and business and financial services, sectors with a significant number of STEM workers. Even though the current boom has sparked an impressive 8 percent expansion in the number of tech jobs in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan statistical area over the past two years, and 10 percent over the past decade, the area still has 12.6 percent fewer STEM jobs than in 2001.

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