Massachusetts workforce is techiest in nation
Nearly one in 10 Massachusetts workers is employed in fields such as software, telecommunications, and technology manufacturing, making the state’s labor force the techiest in the nation.
CompTIA, an information-technology industry group, counted 286,000 tech jobs in Massachusetts last year, using data from the US Labor Department. The figure amounted to 9.8 percent of the state’s labor force, edging out Virginia for the top spot.
According to the report, titled “Cyberstates 2015,” a decline in federal spending led to the loss of 8,900 tech jobs in Virginia, where many companies do business with the government.
Massachusetts added 8,600 technology jobs last year, the fourth-largest growth of any state.
“It’s generally consistent with what we’ve been seeing,” said Tom Hopcroft, head of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, which has conducted its own research on the industry’s size and scope in the state. “Creating jobs isn’t the hard part for the tech sector right now. It’s filling them.”
California remained the nation’s top tech employer in absolute terms, with 1.1 million jobs out of a national total of 6.5 million. Massachusetts ranked fifth, after Texas, New York, and Florida.
The average wage in the Bay State’s tech sector, $121,000, was the second-highest in the country and nearly double that of the average worker here, making tech-sector employers responsible for almost a fifth of the wages paid out to Massachusetts workers last year.
One of the main strengths in Massachusetts was the tech industry’s research and development category, CompTIA said, which overlaps with the life sciences industry.
The report found 50,600 people employed in Massachusetts were doing R&D and testing work, about one-third the total number of employees in those fields in California but more than in any other state.
The tech industry is expected to continue to grow in Massachusetts. The number of positions advertised here grew faster than the national average, with 15.6 percent more openings late last year than in the same period in 2013.
Nationally, the rise was 11.3 percent.
“I think we have critical mass in Massachusetts around the tech sector,” said Patrick Larkin, director of the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Coll-aborative, another trade group. “The future’s guaranteed to no one, but we have clearly a wonderful running start.”
The collaborative has conducted similar research that found strength in the state’s broader “innovation economy,” which includes other high-wage fields that require highly educated workers.
And Hopcroft’s group, the Mass. Technology Leadership Council, has calculated that spending by tech-nology businesses and their em-ployees supports more than 400,000 jobs across the state in other sectors, from public relations to pizza par-lors.