As the world increasingly relies on advanced technology — in computing, manufacturing, health care, and more — science and technology are becoming inextricably linked in the U.S. job market. More and more, the jobs with better pay and job security are in STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — fields.
Some areas — most notably California’s Silicon Valley — have become known across the country and the world for their output of high-tech products and services. There are 15 U.S. major metropolitan areas in which at least 9% of the workforce is employed in a STEM field. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. cities’ labor forces to determine the cities with the most high-tech jobs.
STEM jobs typically pay significantly better than jobs in non-STEM industries. Regardless of education level, those in STEM fields have a median annual income that greatly exceeds that of non-STEM jobs, according to a study from Pew Research Center.
Many of the STEM jobs found in these cities focus on developing artificial intelligence and automation, which could then replace the work many American workers do. About a quarter of the U.S. labor force, 36 million people, hold jobs that could be made obsolete by advancing technology, according to a study by nonprofit public policy organization Brookings Institution.
To identify the 15 cities with the most high-tech jobs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed metropolitan statistical area (MSA)-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) database for 2017 to find the cities with the highest percentage of total jobs that are classified as STEM-intensive. The most common STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — job in each MSA was the occupation with the highest location quotient — calculated as the occupation with the highest share in the local labor force relative to the national share — for that occupation. Average wages for STEM jobs and total employment were also derived from the OES data.
15. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado
> Pct. of workers in STEM fields: 9.2%
> Most common STEM job: Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers
> Avg. STEM median wage: $81,672
> Total employment: 1,443,130
Of the 1.4 million workers in the Denver metropolitan area’s labor force, 9.2% are employed in the fields of science, math, engineering, and technology. Some of the area’s largest employers are telecommunication companies like Dish Networks and CenturyLink as well as some major health care companies like Denver Health and Kaiser Permanente. Denver area STEM workers are most likely to work as a mining or geological engineer.
14. Trenton, New Jersey
> Pct. of workers in STEM fields: 9.3%
> Most common STEM job: Chemists
> Avg. STEM median wage: $89,623
> Total employment: 229,450
The Trenton metropolitan area benefits greatly from its geographical location, near New York and Philadelphia, two of the nation’s major industrial centers. Land, rent, and taxes are significantly lower in Trenton than in New York City, for example, which helps lure regional business to the city. Trenton and the state of New Jersey have made additional financial efforts to draw tech companies to the area. For instance, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in 2017 approved $17 million in tax credits to encourage technology consulting and data management systems company Maestro Technologies to relocate in Trenton.
13. Ann Arbor, Michigan
> Pct. of workers in STEM fields: 9.5%
> Most common STEM job: Life, Physical, and social science technicians, all other
> Avg. STEM median wage: $75,339
> Total employment: 213,990
Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, one of the top U.S. colleges for engineering and other science programs. This major university provides Ann Arbor businesses with a steady supply of young, educated job seekers each year. Over 54% of adults in Ann Arbor have a college degree, well above the 32% college degree attainment rate nationwide.
12. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida
> Pct. of workers in STEM fields: 9.9%
> Most common STEM job: Aerospace engineering and operations technicians
> Avg. STEM median wage: $78,031
> Total employment: 206,760
The Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metropolitan area has been home to NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center — known as “America’s gateway to space” — since 1962. Not surprisingly, the most common STEM job in the area is aerospace engineering and operations technicians. The area also has a rapidly growing technology industry. The City of Palm Bay organized an Economic Development and External Affairs Division in 2015 to aid promote further growth in the city’s tech industry.
11. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
> Pct. of workers in STEM fields: 10.2%
> Most common STEM job: Biological scientists, all other
> Avg. STEM median wage: $96,660
> Total employment: 2,369,450
California’s Bay Area, home to Oakland, San Francisco, and the surrounding area, is one of just 11 major metro areas in the United States in which at least one in 10 workers are employed in STEM fields. Just north of the San Jose area and Silicon Valley, the Bay Area is home to some of the largest and most recognizable tech companies in the world, including Twitter, Salesforce, and Uber. Yet the STEM field that employs the most Bay Area residents is actually biological science. This field includes scientific researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and diagnostic laboratory workers.