By Mel Duvall
The U.S. technology sector managed to add jobs for the fourth straight year in 2008, despite hitting a wall in the fourth quarter of the year, according to a report released this week.
The Cyberstates Report, compiled by TechAmerica, showed that the U.S. economy added 77,000 tech sector jobs overall in 2008. That was the weakest job growth in the last four years, but it came during a period when the U.S. economy overall was experiencing severe job cuts.
"The U.S. high-tech industry continued to add jobs in 2008, however, future growth is clearly jeopardized as a result of the current economic downturn and the volatility of global financial markets," said Christopher Hansen, chief executive of TechAmerica. "While we suffered losses in the fourth quarter, our industry has weather the storm better than most, and the results of our report indicate that the tech industry is well positioned to help lead America's economic recovery."
TechAmerica was formed in December of 2008 by the merger of the Information Technology Association of America and the American Electronics Association.
Clearly, the downturn took a toll on the sector, although not nearly as bad as other areas of the economy. Fourth quarter data showed there was a loss of 38,000 jobs in the tech sector, or a 0.6% drop in overall employment. Total private-sector employment by comparison fell 1.3% in the fourth quarter.
Over the last four years the tech industry has added 382,900 jobs, including 87,400 in 2005, 139,000 in 2006, 79,600 in 2007, and 77,000 in 2008. In total, the sector employs about 5.9 million workers.
Gains were strongest in two sectors of the industry—software services, which added 86,200 net jobs, and engineering and tech services, which added 26,600. On the down side, net employment losses of 23,100 jobs were experienced by high-tech manufacturing, and 12,700 jobs were shed in communications services.
While 2009 will certainly be a difficult year for the sector, TechAmerica believes the economic stimulus bill introduced by the Obama Administration will have a positive effect. "In crafting the stimulus bill, Congress and the Obama Administration put their trust in the transformative power of technology," said Phillip Bond, president of TechAmerica. "The results of our Cyberstates report show that they have chosen wisely—technology investments will foster new economic growth at the state, local and national levels."
At the state level, the report showed that 39 states experienced net job growth. The largest gains occurred in Texas (+14,700), Georgia (13,100), Washington (11,300), North Carolina (5,500), and Virginia (5,300). Virginia led the nation with the highest concentration of tech workers—92 out of every 1,000 private sector workers in the state were employed in the tech industry. Virginia was followed by Massachusetts and Colorado.
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