California No. 1 in high-tech jobs

A report by the American Electronics Association shows that California remains the No. 1 state for high-tech jobs.

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California still leads the nation when it comes to high-tech jobs, a new report disclosed today.

"Cyberstates Job Scorecard," by the American Electronics Association, reported that the industry as a whole boasted a decade-high 4.3 million jobs last year.

For the second year in a row, California was the No. 1 high-tech state. The state's industry added 54,832 new jobs to the American economy in 1996, an 8.19 percent increase over the previous year. But it takes more than just luck to become a hub for technology.

The top high-tech regions all share governments that have gone out of their way to create a conducive business environment, said Michaela Platzer, director of research for AEA. She pointed to a so-called clustering effect in areas such as Silicon Valley in California, Silicon Hills in Texas, Silicon Alley in New York, and Silicon Forest in Oregon. These areas are usually near a major university, sources for both high-tech research and future employees.

States that joined California in the top ten were Texas, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Georgia, in that order. Together, these ten states accounted for more than 60 percent of all the new high-tech jobs created nationally.

Hoping to get a snapshot view nationwide, Platzer distinguished the AEA study from individual state surveys by using a standard methodology and objective classification codes to define the industry. She was surprised by some of the results, especially in some of the higher-growth states like Georgia, Illinois, and Florida.

"When people think of Florida, they think of tourism and oranges," Platzer said, not the information services-based economy that the state, and the country as a whole, is moving toward.