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New High-Tech Jobs Gain Momentum

A nationwide survey shows 150,000 new jobs were added last year, compared with 87,400 jobs that were added in 2005.
Still shaking off the after-effects of the devastating technology bubble of 2000-2001, the U.S. high-tech industry added jobs for the second straight year in 2006, according to a nationwide survey released this week by the AeA.

The AeA, formerly the American Electronics Association, reported that the positive jobs situation appears to be gaining momentum as 150,000 new jobs were added last year, compared with 87,400 jobs that were added in 2005. In compiling the 2006 figures, the AeA observed that the gains were uneven, with traditional high-tech strongholds such as California and Massachusetts recording significant gains while some states, including Florida and North Carolina, logged surprisingly big gains.

The AeA's Cyberstates 2007 report found a total high-tech employment population of 5.8 million. Most of the jobs pay well.

"The average tech industry wage is 86% more than the average U.S. private sector wage," said William T. Archey, president and CEO of the AeA, in a statement. "In 48 cyberstates, the average high-tech wage is at least 50% more than the average private sector wage, and in 10 cyberstates this differential is over 90%."

As expected, the nation's largest state and the center of high-tech development -- California -- led the way, adding 14,400 new jobs, which represents a 2% increase. The computer systems design and related services segment had the highest gains, adding 7,100 jobs, while engineering services tacked on 6,400 positions.

The AeA said California nailed down 48% of all U.S. venture capital invested in high tech last year. The survey found that high-tech jobs rose not just in high-tech hotbed Silicon Valley, but also in other regions in the state, including Southern California.

The strong research capabilities in Massachusetts helped it record a 2% gain in high-tech jobs in 2006. That brought the Bay State's total high-tech employment to 237,000, including 4,300 new positions.

Anne Doherty Johnson, executive director of the AeA's New England Council, cited the state's strengths in academic and university research, and she made a plea on behalf of foreign students. "We need to allow more of the world's brightest scientists and engineers to come work in our state's universities and tech companies," she said.

Florida's booming high-tech industry was something of a surprise, because the Sunshine State isn't generally known for its high-tech industry. A big chunk of the state's new 10,900 jobs were in manufacturing, particularly in defense electronics, the AeA said.

"While other states are only now beginning to recover from the bursting of the tech bubble in 2001, we have seen two straight years of some of the fastest growth in the industry's jobs in the country," said Amjad Shamin, chair of the AeA's Florida Council. "While other states continue to see their tech manufacturing base erode, Florida added manufacturing jobs."

Another state adding heavily to its tech jobs base is North Carolina, which tallied some 7,600 new positions. The additions were broad-based, and much of the growth was attributed to the state's universities and companies in the Research Triangle around Raleigh.

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