Utah's high-tech sector has been adding thousands of jobs in recent years, according to national and state data.

The 11th annual Cyberstates report, released today by the American Electronics Association, indicated that Utah had 4,172 tech companies in 2006 and industry growth of 3,300 jobs from 2005 to 2006.

That information was based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, but the picture since then is even brighter. At the annual members meeting of the Utah Technology Council on Friday, the council's president and chief executive officer Richard Nelson said the state has 4,956 tech firms and that council's corporate membership had grown by 150 during the past year, for a total of more than 500.

Nelson called 2007 "another outstanding year" and said Utah's tech industry is "having great times."

"Certainly, local technology CEOs know it's hot here," he said. "We won't always be at the top of the economic mountain. But we ought to absolutely continue to try to find better ways to thrive."

The Cyberstates report showed Utah's tech industry employment totaling 55,981, with a total payroll of $3.3 billion, in 2006. The largest sector, computer-systems design services, also was the fastest-growing, adding 1,100 jobs that year. Engineering services grew 800 jobs. The only sector to see a significant loss was Internet services, which decreased by 200 jobs.

"With three years of consecutive growth, Utah's tech-industry employment remains strong," Matthew Kazmierczak, vice president of research and industry analysis for the American Electronics Association, said in a news release. "The Beehive State offers much to attract companies.

"Our work force is highly educated, our tax rates are low and people can afford to live here. The tech industry is particularly attractive to Utah as the industry pays on average 69 percent more than the average private-sector job."

Most of the breakout statistics in the association's report had Utah in the middle of rankings among states. Among the more-recent statistics were for venture-capital investments, which totaled $182 million in 2007, down 3 percent from 2006 and ranked 19th nationally.

Utah in 2006 was in the top 15 among states in electromedical manufacturing employment, with 1,700 jobs putting it in 13th place; software publishers employment with 5,400 ranked 12th; and communications equipment manufacturing employment, with 3,000, or 14th-ranked.

In 2006, Utah's tech companies had 57 of every 1,000 private-sector workers. Virginia led the country, with 91 per 1,000, followed by Massachusetts, Colorado, the District of Columbia and Maryland.

Nationally, the report shows that the high-tech industry employed 5.9 people in 2007, adding 91,400 jobs during the year — the third straight growth year. The industry added 139,000 jobs in 2006 and 87,400 in 2005, according to the report.

"While we are certainly pleased to report that the technology industry added jobs nationally and across nearly every state, national tech growth slowed in 2007, making the story good but not great," said Christopher Hansen, the association's president and CEO.

E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com