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November 1996, Vol. 119, No. 11
Employment in R&D-intensive high tech industries in Texas
Donald Lyons and Bill Luker, Jr.
Since the early 1980s, literally dozens of studies have been published about the geography of high-technology industry in the United States. But because the structure of the industry is constantly evolving, it is often difficult to generalize about the distribution of employment in high technology between and within regions of the United States.1 California and Massachusetts are often regarded as the preeminent centers of U.S. high-tech industry, but other States have emerged as important locations for new plants and new firms as well. For some time now, Texas has been recognized as a leading center of employment in high technology,2 yet there have been few attempts to compare the industrial composition of high-tech industry in Texas with that of other States.3 In this article, we use a definition of "research-and-development (R&D) intensive," as applied to high-tech industries, developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the early 1990s,4 together with data from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program (also known as the ES-202 program), to analyze the distinguishing features of Texas-based employment in R&D-intensive high-tech industries relative to that of California, Massachusetts, and, both implicitly and explicitly, the Nation as a whole.
We focus on three aspects of R&D-intensive high-tech industry in Texas relative to the two comparison States and the Nation. First, which industries dominate the composition of employment in Texas R&D-intensive industry? Second, in what ways has Texas employment in this sector changed between 1988 and 1994? Third, what effect have these changes had on Texas position in the national market hierarchy of R&D-intensive industry? Perhaps our most striking finding is that employment in the R&D-intensive high-tech sector in Texas increased during the 6-year interval for which data were available. By contrast, the high-tech sectors in California, Massachusetts, and the Nation all shed employment. But this is a more complex issue than it at first appears. In the remainder of the article, we consider our findings in both the empirical and theoretical context of how r&d-intensive high-tech industries influence the growth and development of regional economies.
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1 See R. P. Oakey and S. Y. Cooper, "High technology industry, agglomeration and the potential for peripherally cited small firms," Regional Studies, vol. 23, no. 4, 1989, pp. 34760; A. Saxenian, "Silicon Valley and Route 128: regional prototypes or historic exceptions?" in M. Castells, ed., High Technology, Space, and Society (Beverly Hills, CA, Sage, 1985), pp. 81105; and A. J. Scott, "The collective order of flexible production agglomerations: lessons for local economic development policy and strategic choice," Economic Geography, vol. 69, no. 3, 1992, pp. 21933, for discussions of the differences that exist among various so-called core high-technology areas, such as Silicon Valley, Route 128 in Massachusetts, and Southern California. It is important to note that, while these areas have enjoyed rapid and self-sustaining rounds of innovation leading to high levels of local employment growth, differences in industrial structure can lead to far less spectacular employment performance elsewhere. For example, R. Miller and M. Cote, in Growing the Next Silicon Valley: A Guide for Successful Regional Planning (Lexington, MA, Lexington Books, 1987), identified 30 regional clusters of high-technology industry with annual employment growth rates ranging from 1.11 percent to 39 percent.
2 See R. W. Riche, D. E. Hecker, and J. U. Burgan, "High technology today and tomorrow: a small slice of the employment pie," Monthly Labor Review, November 1983, pp. 5058.
3 See J. P. Campbell and S. Goodman, High-technology employment in Texas (Austin, TX, University of Texas, Bureau of Business Research, 1985); J. P. Campbell, Comparative High-Tech Industrial Growth: Texas, California, Massachusetts and North Carolina (Austin, TX, University of Texas, Bureau of Business Research, 1986); and Defense Transition: Economic Promise for Texas (Austin, TX, Governors Office of Economic Transition, 1993), for three such attempts.
4 P. Hadlock, D. Hecker, and J. Gannon, "High technology employment: another view," Monthly Labor Review, July 1991, pp. 2630, defined R&D-intensive high-technology industries as high-technology industries in which the percentage of workers who spend the majority of their time engaged in r&d activitiesas designated by the employer in BLS occupational surveyswas at least 50 percent greater than the average percentage for all industries. This metric generated a list of 30 R&D-intensive high-tech industries that we examine in this article.
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