Tech skills are increasingly in demand across the U.S., and you may not need to uproot to find a new opportunity, as growth is not limited to the usual job markets. Here’s a look at where tech job growth is highest, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as interviews with Shravan Goli, President of Dice Holdings, Tim Johnson, vice president of sales at Mondo; and Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at Modis.
New Jersey tops the BLS list for job growth in computer systems design and related services, at 5.2%. That brings the Garden State into the top five in terms of tech workforce size, along with California, Texas, Virginia and New York, according to BLS data. The state is actively working to add tech jobs, Goli says, by offering tax breaks and grants to small and midsize tech businesses that create new positions. Also fueling growth is the ability of New Jersey tech companies to feed off neighbor New York’s talent base, Goli says.
Massachusetts is second to New Jersey in tech job growth, at 4%, according to the BLS, and has created more jobs so far in 2013 than last year at this time. Like New Jersey, the state is actively working to attract tech business, Goli says. In addition to its many healthcare, financial services and education giants requiring tech talent, Massachusetts also competes with New York for the title of “Silicon Valley of the East,” Goli says. Along with startups, traditional tech firms maintain a Boston presence for proximity to the region’s universities, Mondo’s Johnson adds.
BLS data shows 3.8% tech job growth in Missouri, which concurs with Dice’s observation earlier this year that St. Louis was top among U.S. cities in tech employment growth. This is due in part to an increased awareness of technology’s role in business and on employment, Goli says. “Incubation of tech companies through government support is happening more in some areas, whereas it’s done predominantly through venture funding in traditional states,” he says. For instance, the St. Louis IT Entrepreneur Network works to coach tech startups. Another driver is the number of large tech consultancies in St. Louis, Goli says.
Texas hosts a large tech workforce, and it’s about to get bigger, with 3.3% growth, according to the BLS. Dice attributes the growth to a diverse business landscape that includes cloud software companies in Austin; healthcare, financial and insurance powerhouses in Houston; the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas; and defense contractors in San Antonio. Additionally, Ripaldi says, the energy sector continues to spur growth in Houston, and businesses are attracted to the state’s comparatively low cost of living. Texas also offers a very business-friendly environment, adds Johnson, whose firm plans to open an office in Dallas early next year.
At 2.6% job growth, New York is fifth on the BLS list. Part of this growth is its succesful work to establish itself as the go-to tech startup community over its rival, Boston. “Boston was the Silicon Valley of the East Coast for a long period of time, but it’s faded as New York became a hotbed for startups on the East Coast these days,” Goli says. Even beyond the startup world, the tech workforce in New York is “large and growing at astronomical rates,” Johnson says.
Washington has become a technology innovation center and is seeing 2.5% growth in tech jobs, according to the BLS. Spurred by ongoing tech developments from Amazon and Microsoft, the state is best known for focusing on the cloud and Web services. “Because of the big cloud push, an ecosystem has developed around these companies that feeds off one another,” Goli says. “We’re seeing a lot of growth that will keep a company like ours busy.”
While Chicago is not renowned for its technology innovation, it hosts one of the larger tech workforces and is seeing 1.8% tech job growth, according to the BLS. A big factor in this growth is the number of large, mature companies in several industries that call it home. “You never hear it mentioned in regards to cutting-edge technology, as with New York or Silicon Valley,” Johnson says. “But there’s no doubt that technology is growing significantly in Chicago.” On Dice’s jobs site, Illinois tends to have roughly 4,000 open positions posted on any given day, Goli says.
According to Johnson, Mondo’s third fastest-growing office is in Philadelphia, after New York and California. “You would never assume that, but that’s the reality,” he says. Pennsylvania also made it to the last slot on the BLS list top 10 list, with 1.7% growth. In-demand skills, Johnson says, are more traditional in the region — possibly due to the manufacturing and industrial businesses concentrated in both Philly and Pittsburgh — including programmers, developers, project managers and help desk workers.
Florida does not make the BLS list for fast growth, but recruiters are seeing a surge in job opportunities. According to Ripaldi, the trend is attributable, in part, to large organizations elsewhere in the U.S. looking to affordable and desirable cities like Jacksonville when planning an expansion of their data centers or extension of their application development function. “We’ve had clients with large data centers in the Northeast realize that from a cost standpoint, they could get more in this market,” he says. “Then they discover some of the talent that’s already here or that they can attract to the area.”
Atlanta, known as the business capital of the South, is “extremely hot” right now, according to Johnson, based on the combination of a healthy business environment, a low cost of living and a growing community of tech startups. “Technology is so engrained in business that if you’re in a market that’s good-sized and growing, technology jobs will be a big piece of that,” he says. Further, “forward-thinking technology entreprenuers are choosing Atlanta to set up shop,” Johnson says. “The cost of living is significantly lower, yet it offers everything you want in a big city, so it can attract talent.”
North and South Carolina
From Research Triangle Park and spreading out to Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston-Salem, companies in a range of industries (financial services, healthcare, technology, manufacturing and insurance) make up a strong market in which tech skills are in high demand, Ripaldi says. Like Atlanta and Florida, the cost of living in the Carolinas is attractive to both businesses and employees, and “talented resources are moving there and calling it home because there’s so much innovation happening in the area,” Johnson says.
With Silicon Valley, California is the renowned startup and technology capital of the U.S. The size of its tech workforce is hard to beat in terms of raw volume, but because it’s starting from such a large base, its tech job growth rate is slower than other states; in fact, it didn’t make it to the BLS’s Top 10 list. However, observers are seeing a quickening in the job creation pace. “The pace of tech hiring in California is something to note,” Ripaldi says. “Even though the technology companies there have been hiring for some time, it continues to spread.”
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