More Than Half of Top STEM Growth Markets Are West and South

RCLCO real estate consulting recently published its annual STEM Job Growth Indexwhich “highlights the key metropolitan areas that represent current strongholds of STEM employment, as well as those that are likely to see positive growth in these industries over the coming years.”

Although it’s come out for the last six years, this is the first time that some big-name companies that hire people for STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—jobs are laying people off instead of bringing them on, making the context trickier to read.

RCLCO looked at the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas and noted that 70% of STEM employment occurs in these markets. That leads to greater wealth concentration.

“STEM positions pay an average of 69% more in salary than non-STEM positions within these markets ($104,000 compared to $61,000),” the firm noted. “These higher wages lead to increased economic output via a multiplier effect. The direct, indirect, and induced impacts of these STEM jobs have a greater than 2x multiplier on total US employment.” The more STEM jobs, the greater the positive economic impact on the area.

The firm looked at factors that fell into the categories of workforce quality, quality of life, and business climate and weighted them to derive its scores. The top five metro areas were Austin, Texas; Washington, DC; Raleigh, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California; Portland, Oregon; San Jose, California; Boston, Massachusetts; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Other cities often associated with STEM—Dallas, New York City, Charlotte, and San Diego, to name a few—were further on in the list.

But attracting STEM workers no longer necessarily translates into equally elevated levels of office occupation. About half of all STEM jobs are related to computers, according to RCLCO, and the tech sector’s office footprint continues to shrink. The consulting firm wrote, “While the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work seen in 2020 and 2021 has moderated, an estimated 35% of workers have the option to work fully remote according to the McKinsey Institute – and 32% of workers take advantage of this opportunity. The opportunity to work from home is higher among high tech jobs, particularly those in computers, mathematics, architecture, and engineering.”

And then there are the immediate impacts of worry about the economy, with no telling how long they might last. Big tech companies laying off employees include Meta (Facebook’s owner), Twitter, Amazon, Lyft, Stripe, Salesforce, Microsoft, Robinhood, Coinbase, and Cisco. This is probably the most uncertain time for the industry in a good number of years.

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