PROVO — A new report from a renowned Washington D.C. think tank rates Provo as one of the biggest generators of high-tech jobs as well as a top producer of science, technology, engineering and math graduates.
Among Utah cities rated in the study, Provo ranked No. 12, while Ogden ranked No. 14, followed by Salt Lake City at No. 15.
The Brookings Institution this week released “America’s Advanced Industries: What they are, where they are and why they matter.” The comprehensive report examined America’s “advanced industries” sector encompassing 50 industries ranging from manufacturing (auto making and aerospace) to energy (oil and gas extraction) to high-tech services (computer software and computer system design) including health applications.
Utah County has long been recognized as the state’s premier technology hub and one of the fastest growing tech incubators in the nation. Data from the report shows that advanced industries employed 25,090 full-time workers in Provo in 2013. Those jobs paid on average nearly $71,000 annually, compared to an average of just under $40,000 for all other industries in the metro area.
Advanced industries are characterized by heavy involvement with technology research and development, along with science, technology, engineering and math workers.
Provo-Orem, at 19 percent, was also among the 15 large American metro areas with more STEM graduates as a share of the young adult population than global leader Finland — at 22 percent. The U.S. average was 15 percent.
The city of Ogden ranked just below its Utah County counterpart with advanced industries employing 26,530 full-time workers in 2013. Those jobs paid an average of $60,580 per year compared to $40,180 for all other industries.
Salt Lake City registered at No. 15 with 71,590 full-time workers in advanced industries. Those positions paid an average of over $70,000 a year compared to $48,780 for all industries, the report showed.
Brookings defined advanced industries as those that spend at least $450 per worker per year on research and development and employed at least 20 percent of their workforce in STEM-intensive occupations. The definition also classifies 50 industries across the manufacturing, energy, and services sectors that together constitute the advanced industries super-sector, the report states.
“Obviously, having a STEM workforce is a critical component of these industries,” said Scott Andes, senior policy analyst for the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution and the study's co-author.
Advanced industries represent a sizable economic anchor for the U.S. economy and have led the post-recession employment recovery, according to the report. Their competitiveness and growth are prerequisites for any future broadly shared prosperity, Andes said. This sector comprises the country’s best shot at supporting innovative, inclusive and sustainable growth, he added.
Andes said cities nationwide need to “pay greater attention to” the skills pipeline of STEM graduates.
“Some places like Provo are doing good, and other places around the country aren’t doing as well,” he said.
Andes also noted that although Provo ranked highest among Utah cities in the study, Salt Lake City boasted the most advanced industries diversity among the ranked cities from the Beehive state.
“The three Wasatch Front metros do really great,” he said.
Looking ahead, the Brookings Institution believes that advanced industries are likely going to be critical to the sustainability and vitality of the nation’s economic future.
“They are industries that we can have long-term economic competitiveness in,” Andes said. “They pay twice as much as the average job and our research showed that almost half of advanced industry jobs are accessible to people with less than a bachelor’s degree.”
He said that states like Utah should try to form their workforce preparation plans around STEM education in advanced industries.
“There is just a huge number of opportunities in advanced industries that require workforce development training,” Andes said.
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