News & Rankings

Job growth study: Raleigh No. 2 in tech, No. 1 in STEM

By Rick Smith of WRAL

A new study finds that the Raleigh metro area ranks just behind Austin in technology job growth over the past decade. But North Carolina's capital area is No. 1 in job growth related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. The news comes as GSK donated $1M to kick start a N.C. STEM initiative on Wednesday.

The study, which was published by Forbes, is based on a review of various economic data for each of the largest 52 metropolitan areas across the U.S. from 2004-2014.

Technology-related job growth in Raleigh grew 62.3 percent to 38,853, according to data compiled by Praxis Strategy Group.
STEM-related jobs grew at 39 percent to 49,593.

GSK hopes to give STEM jobs a boost in the state with its $1 million donation to a "STEMAccelerator" program being launched by North Carolina New Schools. Gov. Pat McCrory was on hand for the announcement.

The initiative comes just over a year after a report projected nearly 240,000 STEM jobs would become available in the state but North Carolina was not producing enough students to fill the positions.

“High quality STEM education is critical to North Carolina’s future prosperity,” McrCrory said of the initiative. “To address the gap in education and workforce needs, we must provide resources and support for teachers’ professional growth – especially in the critical areas of science and mathematics. The STEMAccelerator will help us meet one of my administration’s goals of transforming the teaching profession into a rewarding, long-term career.”

The STEMAccelerator will launch in three phases, according to the New Schools organization:

  • Phase 1 – "Research and development: NC New Schools will bring together educators, higher education and industry partners to design new instructional programs focused on the emerging needs of the STEM economy. Co-development will ensure alignment between education and the workplace.
  • Phase 2 – "Pilot: Newly developed programming will be piloted with a core group of educators to validate and refine the content and delivery methodology. Specific emphasis will be placed on developing a virtual delivery component to support rapid, low-cost scaling.
  • Phase 3 – "Roll-out: Refined final programs will be scaled across North Carolina to deliver next generation learning for all students."

Breaking down the study

Austin - Raleigh's rival in many areas of technology job recruitment - led the way in tech job growth at 73.9 percent to 53,118 jobs. STEM jobs grew at a 36.4 percent rate to 86,189 over the decade. That was good for No. 2 behind Raleigh.
Both cities topped overall growth rate of San Jose in Silicon Valley where tech jobs grew at 70.2 percent to 153,546 but STEM job growth lagged at 25.8 percent and 168,652 jobs.

Forbes did, however, cite a caveat for the Raleigh area STEM growth: "[T]he fastest growth in the nation, albeit from a smaller base than many of the other biggest metro areas.

Nationally, Raleigh and Austin both exceeded the overall average of STEM job growth at 11.4 percent and tech jobs at 31 percent.
Job growth in other fields lagged considerably at 4.5 percent, Forbes reported.

The rankings

The top 10 cities:
1. Austin
2. Raleigh
3. San Jose
4. Houston
5. San Francisco
6. Salt Lake
7. Seattle
8. Nashville
9. Jacksonville, Fla.
10. Memphis

Interesting points in study
Forbes points out that all tech jobs are not at high-tech focused firms such as Raleigh-based Red Hat and Cary-based SAS.
As an example: "[J]ust 7% of the nation’s 1.5 million software developers and programmers work at software firms — the vast majority are employed in industries as disparate as manufacturing, finance, and business services."

The methodology

Forbes spelled out how the study was conducted:

"To determine the metro areas that are generating the most tech jobs, Mark Schill of Praxis Strategy Group examined employment data in two different categories. Half our ranking is based on changes in employment at companies in high-technology industries, such as software and engineering. (This includes all workers at these companies, some of whom, like janitors or receptionists, do not perform tech functions). Half is based on changes in the number of workers classified as being in STEM occupations, which captures tech workers who are employed in all industries, including those not primarily associated with technology, such as finance or business services. We ranked the 52 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas by the growth in tech and STEM employment from 2004 to 2014, as well as for their more near-term growth from 2012 to 2014 to give credit for current momentum."


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