Arizona tech job growth rate exceeds national rate

A recent report from the Arizona Tech Council shows the state’s tech sector is thriving, especially in relation to the rest of the United States.

The 2019 Q1 AZTC Industry Impact Report found that Arizona’s tech job growth is 40 percent higher than the U.S. tech sector overall. The jobs also come with higher wages, as tech wages in the state are 20 percent higher than the national average.

Over the past year, the technology sector has experienced a 5.5 percent increase in job growth and a 5.1 percent climb in wages. Only New Mexico and Nevada had higher tech employment growth rates.

“Everywhere you turn, our members are hiring like crazy,” said Steven Zylstra, CEO of the Arizona Tech Council. “Whether you’re talking about startups, existing companies that are expanding, or new companies that are moving here — which they are in droves from places like California — they’re all hiring. So it’s just the level of activity throughout the entire continuum is at a volume we’ve never seen before.”

Zylstra explains that every tech job creates another 2.2 jobs. Because jobs in the tech sector are what are considered “base industry jobs,” Zylstra says, they foster jobs in other industries like retail and service. With higher wages, tech workers are able to pump more money back into the state economy. 

Other sectors have seen growth in tech jobs, as well, such as finance. In fact, according to the report, roughly half of the tech job growth is in companies that don’t specialize in technology. 

“Everybody needs someone — small enterprises might outsource that to a provider, but everybody needs IT people,” Zylstra said. “Whether you’re State Farm or Sprouts or whoever you are, there’s a massive amount of IT.”

According to Zylstra, one of the major causes of the state’s rapid job growth is its tech-friendly policies that its leadership has enacted. Because of Arizona’s flexible regulatory environment, companies like Uber and Airbnb have migrated to the state to test their latest innovations. 

“One of the worries I think we all should have is that if we get a change of leadership either at the state level, with the governor, or with the legislature or even mayors, they can create a whole other environment,” Zylstra said. “We’ve got an environment right now that’s low tax, light regulatory environment, we’ve got reasonable housing costs, low cost of living, high standard of living — but some of that is dictated by politicians, and we’ve got to hope that we maintain this kind of environment, and that can only be done through electing the right kind of people that are pro-business.”

Over 29.5 percent of STEM postsecondary graduates are staying in the state to work, according to the report. By investing in STEM at earlier levels of education, Arizona will consequently invest in its own future. 

“I’ve been here another eleven and a half years, and of the time I’ve been in Arizona, I’ve never seen the amount of activity in the tech sector that we’re currently seeing,” Zylstra said.

Ben Norman

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