A recent article published in New Geography ranked the 51 largest metropolitan regions in the U.S. on their current concentration of and potential growth for “tech-related” jobs. Using a complex methodology that incorporated data on technology industries such as software, data processing, and Internet publishing, as well as more traditional “STEM”-related occupations, the author (with assistance from a researcher with Praxis Strategy Group) placed the Minneapolis-St. Paul area precisely in the middle of his list.
The list produced some interesting outcomes. While one would assume the Silicon Valley area would top the list, it actually ranked seventh. The reasons for this result were varied. First, the article assessed growth not only during booms but during recessions. For example, while in 2000 there would have been no question as to the superiority of Silicon Valley for tech jobs, at the end of 2011 the region had 170,000 fewer tech jobs than it did in 2000.
The author’s methodology also accounted for steadiness and diversity of the growth, noting that places like the Valley can be dominated by trends, which are not always conducive to strong employment statistics. Two of their top five ranked locations, the Washington D.C. area and the Baltimore area, have broader and more stabilized tech communities that include computer systems design and private sector R&D. Other areas with more diversification in tech jobs, such as in biotechnology and publishing, were ranked fairly high despite having less growth in traditional STEM areas.
More general characteristics also impacted a community’s ranking. Lower taxes, less regulation, valuable natural resources, low housing prices, and a highly-educated workforce contribute to the growth of tech-related employment in many areas. These characteristics are another reason Silicon Valley may not rank as highly as it otherwise might; high taxes and housing costs in the area can deter start-ups, at least until they reach a certain level of success.
We certainly hope Minneapolis continues to move up this list!