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Top 10 States for Tech Jobs Growth

By Rich Hein
August 20, 2013 09:39 AM ET

CIO - "You have a tech labor market that is growing nicely and has been growing since the end of the recession, which is great news overall," says Dice's Scot Melland.

What's driving this trend differs from market to market, but there are key areas that, according to Melland, that are affecting companies across the board.

"A trend that we've seen since the recovery in 2009 is that there are these new technologies like mobile computing and mobile apps for one. Cloud computing is another and, of course, security. These are areas that most companies didn't have to worry about five years ago and now they are critical to their business," says Melland.

If you are looking for regions that offer the greatest job opportunities, a recent Dice study on IT job markets cites that the 10 states outlined below have shown the most growth within the Bureau of Labor Statistics Computer Systems Design and Related Services category.

Stats from Dice Report

1. New Jersey

The garden list tops the U.S. with an impressive five-percent growth rate in the tech jobs market through the first half of the year. "New Jersey surprised us. You don't typically think of New Jersey as a technology center, but the number of tech-related positions has grown quite a bit over the last year," says Melland.

If you look deeper into what's at work here, according to Melland, you'll see that New Jersey has made it very attractive to companies, especially small ones. "New Jersey has an economic assistance program to help small businesses. They provide loans and tax incentives to companies who are starting up and adding employees in the state," Melland says.

Another reason, says Melland, that New Jersey is at the top of the heap is that it's able to pull talent out of the New York markets and lure them to New Jersey where the cost of living is less.

2. Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, 2,600 new positions were created leading to a four-percent increase from December of 2012. "Massachusetts is one of those states that you'd expect to see here as a technology center. I think one of the things that help the greater Boston area is that you have overall tech demand and community building is strong. One of the success stories about Massachusetts is that you've got a very strong community that helps shape and grow that culture in a big way," says Melland.

Inside Boston

According to the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report survey, 13 percent of Boston-area technology executives surveyed expect to expand their IT teams in the third quarter of 2013.

Fifty-six percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles in the upcoming quarter, 20 percent plan to put hiring on hold and 8 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter according to the survey.

Sixty-four percent of CIOs also said they were confident that their firms would invest in IT projects in the third quarter of 2013.

What skills are in demand? According to the Robert Half report, 60 percent of the technology executives surveyed said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments. Database management and desktop support followed, with 58 percent and 56 percent of the response, respectively.

"Boston's IT hiring environment remains competitive," said Kristen Johnson, Boston regional vice president of Robert Half Technology, "As companies seek professionals who can ensure their networks and data are secure, there is a shortage of IT candidates with the right skill sets, making it difficult to fill open jobs."

3. Missouri

Missouri's tech employment grew at nearly four percent over the same period in 2012. St Louis and Kansas City are where most of the growth is.

"You always have tech job growth in the major technology metro areas: Boston, Silicon Valley, Austin, etc. What we're starting to see is that some of these second-tier metro markets are really starting to grow. It's a reflection of two things: One is that many more companies have to have larger and more highly qualified technology staffs because of what's happened in tech, like the rise of mobile computing," says Melland.

"Companies have to do things today that they didn't five years ago. For example, you have to have a mobile app. You're probably doing something in cloud computing or security related engineering effort. That's created more demand for these positions in a new set of organizations. This is what is driving a lot of these secondary markets like Missouri and St. Louis specifically," says Melland.

According to Dice, data companies that are currently hiring in St. Louis and Kansas City include numerous tech consulting firms, IBM, Northrup Grumman, Verizon and Scottrade to name a few.

Inside St. Louis

Survey data from Robert Half Technology shows that 10 percent of St. Louis-area tech executives surveyed expect to expand their IT department in Q3.

Fifty-five percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles in the upcoming quarter, 25 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold, and 9 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.

In the same survey, 83 percent of St. Louis CIOs were optimistic about their companies' prospects for growth in the third quarter, and 57 percent felt confident in their firms' third-quarter investment in IT projects.

What's in demand in St. Louis? According to survey data, 60 percent of the St. Louis technology executives surveyed said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments, followed by database management and desktop support with 58 percent and 56 percent, respectively.

4. Texas

Texas saw 3.2-percent growth with areas like Houston and Austin stealing the show in terms of job numbers.

"Texas is Texas; it has one of the strongest economies in the U.S., so it's not a mystery why there is good job growth there," says Melland. "Throw in a great tech center like Austin that continues to do well and with the oil and gas boom that's happened over the last two years greater Houston has added quite a bit as well."

Some of the major players, according to Dice job board numbers, include Dell, Electronic Arts, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Xerox and Verizon and various defense contractors.

Inside Houston

Within the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report survey 10 percent of Houston-area technology executives who responded expect to expand their IT teams in the third quarter of 2013.

Fifty-one percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles in the upcoming quarter, 32 percent plan to put hiring on hold and five percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.

Eighty-eight percent of Houston CIOs were optimistic about their companies' prospects for growth in the third quarter, and 61 percent felt confident in their firms' third-quarter investment in IT projects.

What's in demand in Houston? According to the Robert Half survey, 70 percent of Houston CIOs said it's somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals today. The most challenging skills to find, however, are within the functional areas of data and database management, applications development and networking.

5. New York

Clocking in at number 5 is the Big Apple. New York is one of the largest tech centers. In fact, it's the largest state on Dice's job boards as it relates to jobs listed.

"Like Massachusetts, you expect New York to be at the top of the list. The recovery of the financial services industry is driving a part of that. New York has always been a strong media, advertising and technology community. There is an effort by Mayor Bloomberg to team up with Cornell University to create a technology campus right in the middle of the city. This is just getting started but it's a long-term effort to build into New York the kind of education and 'recent grad flow' that you would see in Boston and Silicon Valley," says Melland.

Inside New York City

Robert Half numbers reveal that 13 percent of New York-area technology executives who responded expect to expand their IT teams in Q3 2013.

Fifty-nine percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles in the upcoming quarter, 24 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold and three percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.

Eighty-seven percent of New York CIOs were optimistic about their companies' prospects for growth in the third quarter, and 69 percent felt confident in their firms' third-quarter investment in IT projects.

What skills are in demand in NYC? Some of the most challenging skills to find in the New York area, according to survey respondents, are within data/database management, networking and security. Seventy-six percent of CIOs reported that it was somewhat or very challenging find in the right people.

6. Washington State

The state of Washington saw a respectable 2.5 percent increase in tech jobs since the beginning of 2013, putting it at number 6 on the list. There are a large number of software publishers there and they pay well, according to BLS stats. "Washington is not a big surprise, driven by the Seattle-Bellevue corridor," says Melland.

Inside Seattle

In a recent Robert Half survey, 10 percent of Seattle-area tech executives said they expect to grow their IT teams in Q3 of 2013.

Fifty-two percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles in the upcoming quarter, 27 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold, and 12 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.

Seventy-nine percent of Seattle CIOs were optimistic about their companies' prospects for growth in the third quarter, and 58 percent felt confident in their firms' third-quarter investment in IT projects.

What skills are hot in Seattle? Sixty-one percent of the Seattle technology executives surveyed in the Robert Half survey said that desktop support is among the skill sets in greatest demand in the first half of 2013. Network administration and database management followed, with 57 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

7. Maryland/Washington, D.C.

Another part of the country that's a regular on the list is the Maryland/D.C. market, which saw a 2-percent increase in tech jobs since 2012. This trend, according to Dice, is driven by government agencies, defense contractors, and the companies and businesses that support them.

Some of the major players in D.C. metro area include Northrup Grumman, Zantech IT services, Lockheed Martin, Verizon and Marriott.

8. Colorado

Colorado experienced an increase of 1.8 percent in its IT jobs market and a lot of that growth is driven by Denver. Companies are relocating there due to low cost of living expenses.

"This is a market that is becoming interesting from a cost-of-living perspective. A few years ago you had companies like HP and Microsoft move operations here. You'll continue to see larger companies move tech operations because there is a good talent pool and the lower cost of living," says Melland.

Inside Denver

According to the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report for Denver, executives plan to increase IT hiring during the third quarter of 2013.

Thirteen percent of Denver-area CIOs surveyed plan to expand their IT staff in 2013. Another 60 percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles, 20 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold, and 7 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.

"Denver's technology industry remains strong, and we continue to see low unemployment rates for certain in-demand IT positions. Steady expansion in the healthcare, financial services and high-tech sectors has stimulated demand for IT professionals who can help firms remain competitive, especially in the areas of network administration, telecommunications and desktop support," said Ted Hellmuth, Denver branch manager of Robert Half Technology.

What skills are in demand in Denver? According to Robert Half Technology data, 65 percent of Denver CIOs said it's somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals today and that it is most challenging to find the right people in the areas of help desk/technical support, networking and data security.

9. Illinois

The Land of Lincoln reached number 9 on the list for the first half of 2013. The driving force behind Illinois' tech job market is Chicago. "As Chicago goes, so goes Illinois," says Melland.

It's a diversified tech center but what creates a lot of the jobs is the tech operations of some larger companies. "It's less of a technology industry driven market and more large companies that need large technology staffs-- places like Sears, Tribune in the media space and Walgreens.

Inside Chicago

Robert Half Technology's survey of Chicago technology executives found that 13 percent of Chicago-area technology executives who responded expect to expand their IT teams in 2013.

Fifty-two percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles in the upcoming quarter, 28 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold, and 6 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.

Eighty-five percent of Chicago CIOs were optimistic about their companies' prospects for growth in the third quarter, and 63 percent felt confident in their firms' third-quarter investment in IT projects.

What skills are in demand in Chicago? Sixty percent of Chicago technology executives, according to a Robert Half survey, said that desktop support is among the skills seeing the highest demand. Network administration and database management followed closely with 58 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

10. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania closes out the list with a 1.7 percent increase over Q1 and Q2 in 2012. "You have two markets here: greater Philadelphia and greater Pittsburgh. It's similar to what we're seeing in Illinois where it's not being driven by technology company growth but the growth and need for technology staff within other companies," says Melland.

Inside Philadelphia

According to the Robert Half IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report, 14 percent of Philadelphia-area technology executives surveyed recently expect to expand their IT teams in the third quarter of 2013.

Forty-seven percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles in the upcoming quarter, 30 percent plan to put hiring on hold and 8 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.

Eighty-nine percent of Philly's CIOs were optimistic about their companies' prospects for growth in the Q3.

What skills are in demand in Philadelphia? According to the most recent data from Robert Half Technology, 54 percent of the Philadelphia technology executives who responded to the survey said that desktop support is among the skills in greatest demand within their IT departments. Database management and network administration were the runner-ups.

"As Philadelphia companies look to upgrade their infrastructure with the latest versions of existing technology, they require IT professionals with a range of development and support skills. This has intensified the competition for top talent with desktop support and network administration experience," said Tim Mullane, Philadelphia regional vice president of Robert Half Technology.

Rich Hein is a senior writer for CIO.com. He covers IT careers. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and onGoogle +.

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Originally published on www.cio.com. Click here to read the original story.
This story is reprinted from CIO.com, an online resource for information executives. Story Copyright CXO Media Inc., 2012. All rights reserved.
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