The Computing Technology Industry Association has released its annual Cyberstates report, providing a detailed look at trends in technology employment.
It's a great way to check how Texas is faring relative to other states in a key component of future growth.
CompTIA uses a measure of technology employment that includes technology workers across the entire economy. By this measure, the U.S. total reached an estimated 11.8 million in 2018, up 2.3 percent from 2017. Since 2010, national tech employment rose by 18.8 percent.
For Texas, estimated 2018 tech employment was almost 983,000, second behind California, far higher with almost 1.8 million. Texas tech employment in 2018 was up 1.8 percent over 2017 and a total of 20.9 percent since 2010.
California's tech employment rose 3 percent for 2018 and 25.4 percent since 2010. The number of technology jobs added in Texas (17,855) ranked third behind California (51,567) and Florida (18,147).
Despite widespread talk of firms moving from California to Texas, the numbers suggest that the advantage of our West Coast friends is substantial and growing.
The largest Texas concentrations are Dallas-Fort Worth (estimated at 349,639), the Houston area (227,788), Austin-Round Rock (154,884), and San Antonio (67,559). Leading sectors in Texas are IT services and custom software; R&D, testing, and engineering services; telecommunications and internet services; and manufacturing. Key occupations are software and web developers, computer system and cybersecurity analysts, and network architects and administrators.
The median wage among Texas technology occupations ($81,858) is nearly double the overall state median.
Clearly, technology employment is important to future performance, directly in technology firms and through performing essential functions across virtually all industries.
Texas is seeing particularly strong growth in emerging areas, including the Internet of Things, smart cities, drones, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and blockchain.
Postings for emerging tech jobs more than doubled between 2017 and 2018, which represents a strong upswing compared to other tech-intensive states (and good news for future performance).
To support growth in technology industries, Texas must first do the things that support growth in any industry, such as maintaining a good business climate and providing excellent public education and infrastructure.
Research investments are also significant. It is imperative to avoid the types of discriminatory laws often perceived negatively by tech companies and knowledge workers and to maintain the quality of place that is attractive to these highly-prized firms and employees. Texas should assess how to increase our internal supply of technology workers, as the industry is plagued by persistent shortages.
Innovative education and training at all levels (particularly in emerging segments) could help ensure the state is well positioned for continued expansion.
This area is competitive, and Texas must remain ever vigilant in its efforts.
Dr. Ray Perryman is president and CEO of The Perryman Group in Waco.