With the economy still struggling, the technology sector has been one of the few consistent bright spots on the employment landscape, and a report from the TechAmerica Foundation, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, found the U.S. high-tech industry added nearly 100,000 jobs between January and June of 2012, a 1.7 percent gain.
During the 18 months examined in the report, the U.S. tech industry saw monthly job gains in 16 of the 18 months, with employment growing from 5.8 million to nearly 6.0 million, an increase of 3.3 percent or nearly 200,000. The report found job growth in three out of the four high-tech sectors—tech manufacturing, communications services, software services, and engineering and tech services—that it focused on.
The communications services industry was the only tech sector to experience a decline. That sector lost some 10,700 net jobs during the same period, which TechAmerica, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, analysis and education, attributed to the wired telecommunications industry’s continuing efforts to adjust to changing market conditions. Technology employment grew in software services (adding 50,800 jobs), engineering and tech services (adding 49,900 jobs), and technology manufacturing (adding 9,200 jobs) during the first half of 2012.
“A strong and vibrant technology industry is critical to supporting an economic recovery and¸ while the tech industry has weathered the downturn better than most, we can’t take its strength for granted,” TechAmerica Foundation president Jennifer Kerber said in a statement. “Global economic and market forces continue to put the technology industry in a position of intense competition—a competition for innovation, where labor and intellectual property provide the foundation for growth. America can only realize the full promise of an innovation economy with smarter public policies focused on developing and attracting the best talent, investing in research and development, and growing and securing our information infrastructure.”
On a year-to-year basis, from June 2011 through June 2012, the tech industry added 75,200 jobs, a 1.3 percent increase. Tech employment as of June 2012 stood at 5.99 million, compared with 5.8 million in January 2011 and overall, the U.S. tech industry employed nearly 6 million people as of June 2012. The industry was one of the last to feel the effects of the economic downturn that began in 2008, and was among the first to see a recovery, however modest.
Offering insight into how the tech industry plays a vital role in U.S. economic competitiveness, the report said strong federal investment in science education during the 1950s and 1960s helped provide the blueprint for the technology boom of the 1990s. The organization encouraged continued investment from the federal government in education and investments in advanced energy research and infrastructure projects.
“We need policies that encourage workforce retraining to help keep skills relevant and current in an ever-changing workplace. A skilled workforce is the most important component in a tech company and an innovation economy, as they are the creators of new technology products and services,” the report concluded. “The high-tech industry supports long-term investments and globally competitive tax treatments that encourage technology companies to form and flourish in the United States and add new American jobs.”