CA holds solid lead over nation in tech employment, compensation

From the Obama administration down to the local school board, there has perhaps never been a time when so much attention, time and money has been focused on improving student performance in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.

A new survey on tech employment nationally illustrates why - not that anyone in California needs convincing.

Last year there were nearly six million people employed in technical occupations, earning an average salary of $93,800, almost double the average private sector salary of $47,400 , according to a survey from TechAmerica Foundation, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research group.

In total, the tech section provided an annualized payroll of $558 billion in 2012.

While much of the economy was still shrinking, the tech industry produced a modest 1.1 percent gain with software services leading the way growing by 3.5 percent or almost 64,000 jobs.

Much of that vigor took place in California - which remains the nation's leader in tech employment boasting more than twice as many tech jobs (968,800) as the next closest rival, Texas (485,600).

After that comes New York with 318,200 tech jobs; Virginia with 285,400, and Florida with 270,900.

But by rate of growth North Dakota is first with a year-over-year increase of 4.1 percent last year; then Michigan, up 3.8 percent, and Missouri, at 3.1 percent.

In California, tech employment grew by about 1.7 percent in 2012, adding 17,700 jobs, or 23 percent of the national gain.

Virginia gets a special notice having the nation's highest concentration of tech jobs with 9.8 percent of its workforce devoted to technical occupations.

When it comes to compensation, tech workers in California are also the national leaders - earning an average annual salary of $123,900 in 2012. Tech workers in Massachusetts were second, earning $116,000 per year, with Washington third, $110,200.

There were eight states where the average tech salary was more than twice that of overall wages in the private sector: California, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, New Mexico, Virginia, Arizona and North Carolina, according to the survey.

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