San Jose Ranked No. 1 High-Tech City

S A N   F R A N C I S C O, Dec. 6, 2000 -- San Jose maintained its position as the No.1 place for high-tech jobs, but other cities with high employment growth were closing the gap.

San Jose had 252,900 high-tech jobs in the most recent statistics, according to a study released Tuesday by the Nasdaq Stock Market and the American Electronics Association, a high-tech trade association.

But Boston was a close second with 234,800 high-tech jobs, followed by Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas. Los Angeles, with 160,500 high-tech jobs, was ranked sixth in the 1998 figures.

The Up-and-Coming Bay Area

The “Cybercities” study named San Francisco the second-fastest growing city in high-tech employment, with 65 percent growth over a five-year period, trailing only Colorado Springs’ 77 percent growth.

The Bay area is “starting to slow a bit relative to other markets,” said Mark Albertson, senior vice president for AeA. “There are some quality of life characteristics that may be putting the brakes on.”

Those include factors such as affordable housing, transportation, energy and education, said Michelle Montague-Bruno, a spokeswoman for the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, who nevertheless touted the attractiveness of her region.

“You can bring folks here because of the jobs, but you’ll keep them here because of the quality of life,” Montague-Bruno said.

The average high-tech annual salary in San Jose was $85,100, putting it second behind Seattle, where workers averaged $129,300. San Francisco high-tech wages were fourth in the nation, at an average of $78,400. In some areas in the country, high-tech wages were as much as 220 percent higher than private sector wages.

The East Coast: It’s Academic

Compared to the East Coast, university research and development ventures in Silicon Valley were falling behind.

“The Bay area lags behind in R&D, compared to many of the universities on the Eastern seaboard,” Albertson said.

This is the first year of the study, which aims to provide a snapshot of the high-tech industry in 60 metropolitan areas. But it is missing a key element of the high-tech industry—the past two years. It uses government data from 1998.

Some industry experts say this year’s dot-com fallout and other factors in the fast-moving tech industry make the study outdated.

“Between two years ago and now, San Francisco could very well have been the fastest growing area,” said Marie Jones, director of business assistance at the San Francisco Partnership, a nonprofit economic development group.

The study shows that in tech employment within the Bay area, San Francisco, at 20th, was upstaged by Oakland, ranked 17th.

San Jose residents were the most wired in the nation, with a computer in 77 percent of households and Internet access in 66 percent.

Jones said the study’s findings on other cities’ booming high-tech industries aren’t surprising.

“Everyone is trying to say they’re as big as San Jose. San Jose doesn’t play that game. They know they’re the biggest,” Jones said. Even so, she added, “the idea that one city should have all the growth is kind of silly.”