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July 2005, Vol. 128, No. 7
High-technology employment: a NAICS-based update
Daniel E. Hecker
High technology receives a great deal of attention due to its association with new products and new production processes and its implications for productivity, international competitiveness, overall economic growth, and the creation of well-paying jobs. Numerous studies have resulted in the publication of high-tech rankings of States and metropolitan areas, while State and local governments have established task forces to assess the potential of high technology to stimulate their economies and have developed strategies to lure high-technology firms.1
It is important to define the term high tech-(nology), both to assess the claims about its effect on the economy and to develop policies and programs. Four articles previously published in the Review presented definitions of high-technology industries and occupations and analyzed high-tech employment trends and projections.2 Because there are a number of methods of identifying high-tech industries, the lists of such industries produced in the literature differ from one another. Using BLS data, this article presents one particular method, lists the resulting industries, discusses employment in those industries, and examines several other approaches. Along with describing employment in high-tech industries in 2002, the article considers employment in 1992, projected employment for 2012, and growth over the 1992–2002 and 2002–12 periods, as well as earnings in high-tech industries and occupations in 2004. The updated list of high-tech industries is based on the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which replaces the Standard Industrial Classification System (SIC) used in earlier articles. The article describes the criterion used to select the industries and, in the final section, examines other selection criteria that were suggested in a March 2004 interagency conference on defining high technology.
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1 The Dynamics of Technology-Based Economic Development, State Science and Technology Indicators, 4th ed. (Office of Technology Policy, Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce), p. 1-1.
2 Richard W. Riche, Daniel E. Hecker, and John U. Burgan, "High technology today and tomorrow: a small slice of the employment pie," Monthly Labor Review, November, 1983, pp. 50–58; Paul Hadlock, Daniel Hecker, and Joseph Gannon, "High technology employment: another view," Monthly Labor Review, July 1991, pp. 26–30; William Luker, Jr., and Donald Lyons, "Employment shifts in high-technology industries, 1988–96," Monthly Labor Review, June 1997, pp. 12–25; and Daniel E. Hecker, "High-technology employment: a broader view," Monthly Labor Review, June 1999, pp. 18–28.
Related BLS programs
Occupational Employment Statistics
Productivity and Costs
in high-tech manufacturing industries—Mar.
High-technology employment: a broader view—June 2002.
Employment shifts in high-technology industries, 1988-96.—June 1997.
High technology employment: another view.—July 1991.
High technology today and tomorrow: small slice of employment.—Nov. 1983.
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