A Top Tech State

GRAND RAPIDS —There’s almost no place like home right now for college graduates with degrees in technology, especially for those who want a career in research and development.

According to the AeA Cyberstates 2006 report, the technology work force in Michigan ranked as the 10th largest in the nation. And most of the 178,000 tech jobs in the state in 2004 fell into two sectors: research and development and testing, and engineering services.

Michigan has thousands of highly skilled and talented individuals in the tech industry, helping to keep the Great LakesState an attractive location for the business of technology,” said Ed Loganecker, executive director of the AeA Midwest Council.

“Employees in the tech industry earn on average $70,800 per year, which is 75 percent more than that of the average statewide private sector worker,” he added.

Loganecker said the payroll from the tech jobs contributed nearly $13 billion to the state’s economy in 2004, a payroll that was 10th highest in the country.

AeA reported that Michigan ranked second in R&D and testing labs employment in the nation with 45,200 jobs; fifth in engineering services employment with 40,400 jobs; and eighth in software publishing employment with 7,300 jobs.

Other findings from the report revealed that high-tech firms employed 49 of every 1,000 private sector workers in the state in 2004, which ranked 21st nationwide; and the 9,300 high-tech businesses located in Michigan placed the state 14th in the nation.

High-tech exports from Michigan firms totaled $1.8 billion, which ranked the state 26th nationwide in that category. And those exports accounted for 5 percent of the state’s total exports in 2004.

R&D expenditures statewide were the second highest in the nation at $16.9 billion in 2003, while venture capital investments of $85 million in 2005 were down 35 percent from the previous year.

While the 178,000 high-tech jobs in Michigan was good news for the state and students looking for work in the field, the figure did reflect a decline of 5,200 jobs from the previous year. In fact, 27 states lost more tech jobs than they gained in 2004.

Virginia led the country in job gains that year, as the state added 9,100. The nation added 61,000 net jobs, which brought overall employment in the high-tech industry to 5.6 million.

“Tech industry employment only grew by 1 percent last year compared to 2 percent for the U.S. private sector as a whole. To promote the creation of high-paying technology jobs for the future, we need to address the competitiveness issues facing our country today,” said William Archey, AeA president and CEO.

AeA is a national trade association that represents all segments of the technology industry and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1943. The AeA Midwest Council is based in suburban Chicago and services member firms in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan

Cyberstates 2006 is the ninth annual technology employment report issued by AeA.

High-Tech Employment

Employment in the high-tech industry crept up by slightly more than a point in the United States from 2004 to 2005, according to an annual survey conducted by trade association AeA of Washington, D.C.

Here is what the association found in its latest survey.

Sector 2004   2005   Percent Change Numeric Change
Electronics Manufacturing 1,325,200 1,328,500 +0.3% +3,300
Communications Services 1,409,500 1,366,900 -3.0% -42,600
Software Services 1,376,900 1,420,300 +3.1% +43,400
Engineering Tech Services 1,428,400 1,485,400 +4.0% +57,000
Total High Tech 5,540,000 5,601,100 +1.1% +61,000

Source: AeA Cyberstates 2006: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry

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David Czurak is a former Grand Rapids Business Journal staff reporter who most recently covered city and county government, real estate, construction, architecture and design and sports business.

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