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Apr 18, 201711:42 AMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

Getting behind the numbers: Tech’s role in the Wisconsin economy

(page 1 of 2)

Agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism are the holy trinity of the Wisconsin economy and may always be so, given the state’s rich traditions in all three sectors.

Technology increasingly drives each of those sectors, however, and is slowly building an impressive standing of its own in terms of the jobs and value it adds to the Wisconsin economy. A recent national report makes the case.

The 2017 “Cyberstates” report from CompTIA, the nation’s largest leading tech association, showed Wisconsin cracking the 100,000-job barrier in 2016 for the first time. The report, which draws upon a mix of public and private data, counted 101,542 state tech workers last year compared with 97,633 in 2015.

First, it’s important to define what constitutes a “tech worker.” Cyberstates counts them in two major ways. It includes all jobs within companies that are primarily tech businesses, as well as technology specialists found in other fields — including agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.

In Wisconsin, the leading categories of tech workers are computer systems analysts, software developers, software applications developers, and computer-controlled machine tool operators. The latter directly relates to manufacturing.

The Cyberstates report does not include workers in the life sciences, such as biotechnology and medical devices. That’s another 30,000 or so Wisconsin workers, depending on how they are counted.

While Wisconsin ranked 20th nationally in tech employment, it was seventh among the states in percentage growth of tech workers (behind Utah, North Carolina, Michigan, Washington, Montana, and California) and 15th in the raw number of tech workers added. 

Wisconsin tech workers earned an average of $79,500 in 2016, reported Cyberstates, a figure 74% higher than the state’s overall average wage of $45,600. Wisconsin’s average tech wage was good for 35th among the states and within a cluster of a dozen or states roughly equal in tech wages. California, as might be expected, led a top-tier group of a half-dozen coastal states that skew the U.S. tech salary average.

Good news for women looking for tech jobs: Wisconsin ranked fifth in the ratio of female tech sector workers to male techies with 36.5% of the total tech workforce. That compares to 33.7% nationally.

Several other figures speak to the growth of the tech industry in Wisconsin — and run counter to reports that show Wisconsin at or near the bottom of the 50-state list for startup companies.


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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.



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