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Publish Date: 4/26/2005

Colorado gets high marks for tech jobs
State makes a strong showing in ’05 study

LONGMONT — There is plenty for Coloradans to like in the AeA’s “Cyberstates 2005” report, being released today.

Based on government data from various agencies, the study finds once again Colorado is tops in the country in terms of concentration of technology workers — 91 for every 1,000 private-sector jobs in the state.

The state ranks seventh in the country for average annual high-tech wage: $74,500, compared with $38,900 for the average private-sector wage in Colorado.

High-tech wages in the state rose 4 percent from 2002 to 2003, the most recent year statistics were available, according to Matthew Kazmierczak, director of research for AeA, a high-tech trade group based in Washington, D.C.

“Compare that with private-sector wages,” said Kazmierczak. “Private-sector wages have remained unchanged; they’ve been at $38,900 for each of those two years.”

In 2003, those high-tech jobs contributed $12.1 billion to Colorado’s economy.

“If you look at that in terms of the rest of the private sector economy, that’s 17 percent of the total wages being paid,” said Kazmierczak. “That’s huge.”

Colorado also ranked No. 10 overall in terms of venture capital investments, and No. 15 in research and development dollars spent per capita.

Colorado’s fall to No. 10 in VC funding was driven by a drop in investment dollars from $628 million in 2003 to $444 million in 2004, a 29 percent reduction.

“The interesting part about that particular statistic is that even though the state of Colorado was down as a whole, it was one of Longmont’s best years,” said John Cody, president and CEO of the Longmont Area Economic Council.

Longmont led the state in VC investment in two of the four quarters last year, Cody said, with data storage-related companies Cornice Inc. picking up $51 million, Copan Systems $25 million and CreekPath Systems $22 million.

“And that doesn’t count the number of small investments that were made in a number of companies, those are just the big hitters,” said Cody.

Colorado, like the rest of the country, has been shedding high-tech jobs, but the losses have at least been slowing down.

The state’s total number of high-tech jobs in 2003 was 162,200, compared with 176,950 the year before.

In 2001, Colorado’s high-tech companies employed more than 204,000.

Nationally, 612,000 high-tech jobs were lost in 2002, but the employment slide was cut to 333,000 last year. In 2004, Kazmierczak said, only 25,000 high-tech jobs were lost.

“The report shows that the tech industry is slowly turning the corner — slowly,” said Kazmierczak.

Two other positive signs nationally are that high-tech exports and venture capital investment both rose in 2004.

“That’s the first time since 2000 that venture capital has increased,” said Kazmierczak.

With regards to exports, he said that 60 percent of Colorado’s are high-tech related. The state is fifth in the country in terms of software services employment, a segment of the industry heavily involved in exports, and much of that activity is in this area, Cody said.

“It’s a huge number for Boulder County,” he said. “Between those types of services and manufacturing, that makes up 50 percent of the wages in the county.”

Colorado, like many other states, certainly took a whack — as Cody put it — for a few years, but he adds that the downturn statewide was due largely to difficulties in the telecommunications industry, an element of high-tech that does not have a large presence in the Longmont area.

“What (the study) does is it continues to underline the fact that technology companies are more important to Colorado’s economy than any other state in the country,” said Cody. “With 46 percent of our primary employment coming from advanced technology companies, it’s hugely important here, too.”

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-684-5291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.

• No. 1 in terms of concentration of technology workers — 91 out of every 1,000 private sector jobs

• No. 7 in high-tech average annual wage — $74,459

• No. 10 in venture capital investments

• No. 12 in high-tech employment

• No. 15 in research and development dollars per capita

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