Survey finds N.H. tech sector lagging

The United States nearly doubled the number of new high-technology jobs in 2006, marking the second year of job growth in the tech sector, but New Hampshire’s tech industry noted only modest growth, according to a study released Tuesday.

In “Cyberstates 2007: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the U.S. High-Technology Industry,” compiled by the technology trade group the American Electronics Association, the nation added 150,000 jobs in 2006, for a total of 5.8 million high-tech workers, up from the 87,400 tech jobs added in 2005.

New Hampshire employed 37,500 high-tech workers, placing it 34th in the country. California was named the No. 1 “cyberstate,” employing 919,322 high-tech workers, and Wyoming ranked last, with 4,596 workers.

“This is the second year in a row that tech industry employment has added jobs,” said William T. Archey, president and CEO of AeA. “Not only do these jobs make critical contributions to the U.S. economy, but they also pay extremely well. The average tech industry wage is 86 percent more than the average U.S. private sector wage. In fact, in 48 cyberstates the average high-tech wage is at least 50 percent more than the average private sector wage, and in 10 cyberstates this differential is over 90 percent.”

AeA uses statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine its high-technology sector trends. National data on high-tech employment and venture capital investments are for 2006. The individual states’ employment data are for 2005, the most recent year available at time of publication, as are the data for wages, payroll and businesses establishments.

Nationally, the average tech wage in 2005 was $75,500, 85 percent above the average private sector wage of $40,500. Venture capital investments were up in 2006 by 2 percent, or $285 million, totaling $12.7 billion.

Much of New Hampshire’s performance in the tech sector was average to below average for 2005, according to the study.

The Granite State added just 29 new jobs — a change of only 0.08 percent from 2004. Total high-tech payroll ($2.7 billion in 2005), research and development expenditures ($1.7 billion in 2004) and venture capital investments ($65.7 million in 2006) all ranked New Hampshire in the lower end of average for the country.

While New Hampshire’s total venture capital dollars placed it at 25th in the country, the change in actual dollars decreased by $45.8 million. That negative change also represented a 41 percent drop in investments, putting New Hampshire in 37th place for VC investment percent change.

New Hampshire was among the leaders in the country, however, in several other key areas:

• The Granite State’s high-tech firms employed 70 out of every 1,000 private sector workers in 2005 — ninth in the nation.
• Those in New Hampshire’s high-tech fields were also paid quite well, with an average wage of $73,300, or 79 percent more than the average private sector wage (14th ranked).
• New Hampshire’s notable low unemployment — 3.4 percent in 2006 — was ranked positively at 10th lowest in the nation, tying with Idaho.

New Hampshire’s reputation as a manufacturing powerhouse also was highlighted in the report in several specialized manufacturing sectors. It ranked fifth in photonics manufacturing employment, at 1,200 jobs; 10th in measuring and control instrument manufacturing employment, at 7,900 jobs; and 12th in electronic components manufacturing employment with 5,900 jobs.

Massachusetts led the six-state New England region for overall high-technology indicators as sixth-highest cyberstate in the nation. Connecticut was second in the region and 24th nationally. Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont were ranked 42nd, 44th and 45th in the nation, respectively.

Massachusetts ranked second nationally for average high-tech wages of $89,659. Connecticut placed 11th with average high-tech earnings at $73,312. Rhode Island and Vermont placed 22nd and 26th respectively. Maine was ranked 41st for tech wages.

The Bay State also was ranked second nationally for the number of high-tech workers per 1,000 private sector employees (86.15) in 2005. Vermont ranked 13th (59.29). Rankings for the other New England states were: Connecticut (22nd, 46.91), Rhode Island (23rd, 45.60) and Maine (39th, 31.75).

While Massachusetts remained strong in the nation and the region in terms of total VC dollars — ranking second at $2.8 billion in 2006 as well as second in the number change in investments at $321 million between 2005 and 2006 — its position dropped to 20th for its 13 percent change in VC dollars from 2005 to 2006.

Connecticut and Rhode Island ranked 17th and 21st, respectively, for VC investments. Vermont and Maine were among the lowest states for VC capital, at 40th and 42nd, respectively.

“Year after year, we have illustrated how critical the high-tech industry is to the nation and to each and every state as it generates economic growth, innovation and high-paying jobs wherever it develops,” said Archey. “While we are encouraged by the pickup in tech employment … we have some serious challenges ahead. Companies of all sizes continue to have problems recruiting highly qualified and educated individuals to work for them, whether those individuals are foreign or domestic.”

For more information or to purchase a copy of the full report, visit — CINDY KIBBE

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