Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What is High Tech? An Oregon Perspective

The high-tech industry is a crucial and dynamic piece of Oregon's economy. In 2012, employment was close to 90,000 and contributed more than $8.4 billion in covered payroll to the state's workers and families.

But what exactly is high tech? The industry does not have one standard definition or official classification code. Instead, it is a mix of service and manufacturing businesses from a variety of industries. The definition used here at the Oregon Employment Department includes 14 industries such as semiconductor manufacturing, software publishers, and web search portals.

High tech accounts for 5 percent of all covered employment statewide. High-tech firms are found all over the state, although they are most concentrated in its largest metropolitan areas: Portland, Eugene, Medford, and Bend.

Broadly speaking, high-tech employment is disproportionally male. Males account for 71 percent of employment and females just 29 percent compared with 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively, across all industries. This reflects national trends.

High-tech workers are also more likely to be of “prime working age,” which is generally defined as ages 25 to 54. More than three-quarters (77%) fall into this age group (see graph).

Average wages in high tech are some of the highest in the state. In 2012, its average wage was over $94,000. This compares with slightly more than $44,000 across all industries. From 2011 to 2012, wages in high tech grew by 3.9 percent, compared with a 2.8 percent rise across all industries.

Taking a look at the specific occupations in this industry, average wages are highest for engineering managers ($134,297), computer and information systems managers ($112,287), and electronics engineers ($103,949). Wages are lowest for the industry’s customer service representatives ($34,089), semiconductor processors ($33,698), and electrical and electronic equipment assemblers ($31,724).

The Oregon Employment Department forecasts the high-tech industry will grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, compared with 18 percent growth across all industries. The future is particularly promising for the industry’s service sectors, where growth is expected to be even higher.

For more information about this growing, generally well-paying industry, check out Jill Cuyler-Crook's full article -- "Oregon’s High-Tech Employment Trends – What is High Tech?"

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