Special Report Overview: High Tech in Colorado
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Colorado tech industry: Strong
vital signs coming into 2013

If there is still any doubt about the importance of the high technology industry in Colorado, consider this:

  • Colorado has the third highest concentration of technology workers in the country. In a room with a dozen people, at least one is likely to be employed in the technology industry.
  • Two-thirds of Colorado’s total private sector payroll is earned by employees in the high-tech industry.
  • A worker in the tech industry earns roughly twice the average salary of Colorado employees.
  • There are more than 13,000 tech-related businesses in Colorado, employing more than 162,000 people.

These are just a few of the morsels reported in the latest “Cyberstates 2013” study released by TechAmerica in May. TechAmerica is an industry trade association representing the technology sector. Among other things, the group issues an annual report examining the size and scope of the high-tech industry in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Taking the temperature of any specific industry segment is tricky business. But the latest TechAmerica report is the 15th in a series of statistical analyses based on consistent definitions and datapoints. That consistency provides a pretty good picture over time.

The tech industry, like most other sectors, mirrors the spikes and dips of the general economy. Looking at the data though, Colorado has fared better than most areas of the country. In a nutshell, the tech industry continues to be an important leg in the state’s economy, and will likely become even more crucial in the future.

state-metrics-buttonFor the last eight years, the state’s tech sector employment has grown steadily, save for the nationwide plunge during the recession years of 2009-10. Since then, the upward trend has resumed, with 162,648 people working in the sector at the end of 2012, ranking 15th among all states in the nation. It also represents an increase of just under 3 percent since 2005.

employ-trends-buttonEven more surprising is the density of tech workers in Colorado. According to the TechAmerica report, 87 of every 1,000 workers in the state are employed in the high tech industry. That ranks third in the entire nation. In fact, Colorado has held the number 3 spot every year since 2005.

Also on the rise is the number of tech businesses and enterprises in the state. As of last year, the number of tech-related establishments stood at 13,100, with a total payroll of $15.8 billion. That’s an increase of 5.6 percent over 2008, when the number of establishments stood at 12,400 with a payroll of $14.9 billion. Moreover, the tech sector dominates the overall private sector payroll in the state; its $15.8 billion payroll represents more than 17 percent of Colorado’s entire private sector payroll.

It’s obvious that the tech industry will continue to play a crucial role in Colorado’s economic future. Can the past tell us anything about the future? Can today’s numbers tell us what’s in store for the days to come? In this RockyMountainTechLine.com special report we’ll dig deeper into the three major areas of the TechAmerica report: employment, wages and tech establishments.

NEXT: The high-tech employment picture in Colorado

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