LANSING — A study released today shows that Michigan still ranks fourth in the nation for total employment in high-tech industries, even though it also ranks eighth in population.
The recently updated study, commissioned by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), concludes that Michigan has about 568,000 high-tech workers, roughly 17,000 less than No. 3 New York, which has nearly double Michigan’s population.
The leading states in high tech employment are California and Texas with 1.5 million and 783,036 high-tech jobs, respectively.
Michigan’s total of high-tech jobs, according to the study, represented a gain of more than 38,000 high-tech workers since the study was first completed about two years ago.
What might be more significant is that, as a percentage of its population, Michigan leads the top three states in high-tech industrial work.
California, Texas and New York rank first through third with populations of 33.8 million, 20.8 million and 20 million, respectively.
And tech jobs in California, Texas and New York comprise 4.5 percent, 3.8 percent and 3.1 percent of their respective populations.
In Michigan, 6 percent of the population holds high-tech employment. The closest rival to Michigan in that category is Ohio with 5.5 percent of its population in high-tech employment.
The study also found that Michigan ranks second among the 50 states in total private spending on research and development activity. MEDC says that with more than $17 billion spent in Michigan on research and development in 1999, only California can boast more dollars spent.
“This study proves that our state’s work force is one of the most technologically advanced in the nation,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of MEDC.
“With many new high-tech initiatives recently put into motion, the number of high-tech workers in Michigan is destined to grow in the years to come.”
The study, conducted by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), uses the 29 industry groups that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines as high-technology industries in calculating the total number of high-tech workers by state. BLS defines industries as “high tech” if the percentage of the company’s work force in both research and development and technology-oriented jobs is twice the industry average.
This fourth place ranking is dramatically higher than the ratings reported annually by the American Electronic Association in the “Cyberstates” study. This year, Michigan was ranked 17th in this annual ranking.
MEDC contends this disparity can be attributed to the fact that the Cyberstates study excludes industries such as automotive, biotechnology and aerospace from the ranking. The automotive industry alone employs more than 70,000 high-tech workers in Michigan.
“Michigan has one of the most innovative and technology-driven economies in the nation,” Rothwell said. “Getting an accurate count of our high-tech workers helps us to quantify that fact and market Michigan as a great place for technology companies to locate and expand.”
Michigan isn’t the only state that is positively affected by this more accurate counting system. Ohio leaps from twelfth in the Cyberstates study to sixth in the CAR study.
A principal author of the study, Sean McAlinden of CAR said, “Our research proves once again that Michigan is home to one of the largest concentrations of private sector high-tech employment and activity in the world.
“This study exhibits Michigan’s expanding role as the advanced engineering and research center for the automotive industry — the largest manufacturing industry in the world.”
The complete study is available at www.michigan.org.