One in every five jobs in the United States required a high level of knowledge in science, technology, engineering or math as of 2011. Since the industrial revolution, the share of these kinds of jobs in the U.S. workforce has roughly doubled.
This week the Brookings Institution released “The Hidden STEM Economy,” a report that reviews the concentration of jobs that require knowledge in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) by metropolitan area. These jobs are often found in health care, computers and manufacturing. In the San Jose metro area, roughly a third of the workforce are STEM workers. Based on a review of the proportion of workers in STEM jobs in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, these are the U.S. metro areas with the most high-tech jobs.
“The STEM workforce is much broader and more diverse than many people might think,” explained Jonathan Rothwell, Associate Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Many jobs that require very high levels of STEM knowledge are done by folks without even a bachelor’s degree.” This includes the manufacturing and construction fields.
Indeed, in cities like Detroit, as much as 50% of all the workers in STEM positions have just an associate’s degree or less, and usually workers become proficient after several months of training. Rothwell noted that these positions are often considered blue collar. But, he added, “these are highly-skilled jobs that pay decent wages. These are not jobs where you can just walk off the street, you need to have some rigorous on-the-job training.”
Some of the cities with the most STEM workers only have them in occupations that require an extensive knowledge base, like technological research and medicine. The Palm Bay, Fla., area, for example, has a lot of workers in research positions associated with the Kennedy Space Center, but relatively fewer jobs in lower-skilled STEM jobs like manufacturing and construction.
While Brookings chose to look at STEM jobs that require bachelor’s degrees and those that do not, the general education levels of the cities reviewed are higher than the rest of the country. In seven of the 10 metropolitan areas on our list, the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree is higher than the 28.5% across the nation as a whole. In five of the metro areas, more than 40% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Jobs in the STEM fields tend to pay significantly better than others. In all but one metropolitan area, the average wage for a STEM worker was more than $30,000 higher than for a non-STEM one. The discrepancy was considerably larger in some metropolitan areas. In San Jose, the average STEM wage was $104,110, while the average non-STEM wage was $52,740.
Due to the high presence of STEM jobs, metro areas on our list tend to have higher household incomes, compared to the country as a whole. Seven of the 10 had a higher median household income in 2011 than the U.S. figure. Five were among the 10 highest-earning large metro areas.
Based on data on the 100 largest metropolitan areas provided by the Brookings Institution, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of jobs in STEM fields. In addition, Brookings provided the percentage of jobs in each metropolitan area that were considered super-STEM jobs, which involve high levels of research and are typically held by highly educated individuals. Data was provided also for average wages for bachelor degree holders and non-bachelor degree holders in both STEM and non-STEM jobs. Information on patents awarded per 100 workers annually between 2007 to 2011 also was provided by the Brookings Institution.
These are the best cities for high-tech jobs.
10. Dayton, Ohio
> Pct. of jobs in STEM fields: 22.9%
> Avg. 2011 STEM wage: $66,705 (49th highest)
> Avg. 2011 non-STEM wage: $35,554 (34th lowest)
> Annual patents per 1,000 workers 2007-2011: 0.47 (43rd lowest)
> Pct. adults with at least bachelor’s degree: 24.7% (16th lowest)
Dayton had 80,710 STEM jobs as of 2011, comprising nearly 23% of all jobs in the metropolitan area. More than 10% of the jobs in the Dayton area were considered super-STEM jobs, the 12th highest of the 100 largest metro areas in the country. The most common STEM field was health diagnosing and treating practitioners, which comprised 15,400 positions. The largest private employer in the Dayton Area, as of March 2013, was Premier Health Partners, a large hospital system primarily serving Southwestern Ohio.
9. Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich.
> Pct. of jobs in STEM fields: 22.9%
> Avg. 2011 STEM wage: $67,659 (43rd highest)
> Avg. 2011 non-STEM wage: $39,190 (28th highest)
> Annual patents per 1,000 workers 2007-2011: 1.52 (17th highest)
> Pct. adults with at least bachelor’s degree: 27.8% (35th lowest)
Nearly 11% of the jobs in the Detroit metropolitan area were super-STEM jobs, higher than all but six other metropolitan areas. Detroit, in part due to its auto industry, has a high concentration of high-skill manufacturing positions that account for many of its STEM jobs. More than 209,000 jobs in Detroit, or almost 13% of all positions in the metro area, required engineering knowledge as of 2011. STEM workers with at least a bachelor’s degree earned more than $80,000 on average in 2011, compared with $67,541 for non-STEM workers with similar educational achievement.
8. Baltimore-Towson, Md.
> Pct. of jobs in STEM fields: 23.1%
> Avg. 2011 STEM wage: $75,133 (12th highest)
> Avg. 2011 non-STEM wage: $43,075 (12th highest)
> Annual patents per 1,000 workers 2007-2011: 0.53 (46th lowest)
> Pct. adults with at least bachelor’s degree: 35.8% (13th highest)
More than half of the 281,730 STEM jobs located in the Baltimore area in 2011 required extensive engineering knowledge. In addition, more than 130,000 jobs required high scientific knowledge. The Baltimore area is home to Johns Hopkins University, which received nearly $1.9 billion in federal research and development money in 2011, more than any other university in the country that year. Much of that money went toward the Applied Physics Laboratory, which employs thousands of engineers and scientists. The average STEM job in Baltimore paid more than $75,000 in 2011, compared to just over $43,000 for non-STEM workers.
7. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.
> Pct. of jobs in STEM fields: 23.9%
> Avg. 2011 STEM wage: $92,889 (2nd highest)
> Avg. 2011 non-STEM wage: $50,383 (4th highest)
> Annual patents per 1,000 workers 2007-2011: 3.59 (3rd highest)
> Pct. adults with at least bachelor’s degree: 43.9% (4th highest)
San Francisco is home to several prominent companies in the health care technology and computer software industries, such as McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK) and Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL). Roughly 63,000 of the 434,000 STEM jobs in the area were health diagnosing and treating practitioners, while 87,500 jobs were in computer occupations. A number of patents originate in the area due to the high presence of technology jobs. Between 2007 and 2011, an average of nearly 3.6 patents were filed annually per 1,000 workers, higher than all but two other metropolitan areas.
6. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.
> Pct. of jobs in STEM fields: 23.9%
> Avg. 2011 STEM wage: $84,031 (5th highest)
> Avg. 2011 non-STEM wage: $47,861 (5th highest)
> Annual patents per 1,000 workers 2007-2011: 1.62 (16th highest)
> Pct. adults with at least bachelor’s degree: 43.1% (5th highest)
Of the more than 554,000 jobs that require STEM knowledge, more than 100,000 were health diagnosing and treating practitioners. Many prestigious research institutions are located in the Boston area, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to the thousands of jobs at Boston’s higher education institutions, many universities, including Harvard, Tufts and Boston University, have hospitals associated with them.
5. Madison, Wisc.
> Pct. of jobs in STEM fields: 24.0%
> Avg. 2011 STEM wage: $67,359 (44th highest)
> Avg. 2011 non-STEM wage: $38,913 (30th highest)
> Annual patents per 1,000 workers 2007-2011: 1.33 (22nd highest)
> Pct. adults with at least bachelor’s degree: 42.5% (6th highest)
Madison is home to the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin, one of the largest research institutions in the United States. Associated with it is the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, which employs approximately 10,000 individuals. The largest private employer in the Madison area is Epic Systems, a health care software company, which employs about 6,200 people locally. Overall, nine of the 100 largest employers in the Madison area are biotechnology companies. The average wage of a Madison STEM worker in 2011 was $67,359, while the average wage of a non-STEM worker was just $38,913.