Thursday, June 7, 2001

Study says state
has fewer tech jobs

National report differs from
figures state calculated in May

How we rate

By Tim Ruel

A new national report estimates Hawaii has 8,353 jobs in high technology, a far more conservative figure than the 12,400 jobs recently calculated by the state.

The report, "Cyberstates 2001: A State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry," measures and ranks tech industries of all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia based on year 2000 figures from the U.S. Labor Department, U.S. Census Bureau, the National Science Foundation and the National Venture Capital Association.

The national report has lower figures in part because it does not include jobs in biotechnology or engineering. Federal government statistics do not identify those positions clearly, the report said. Also, there is no clear agreement on the definition of the biotechnology industry, it said.

The state's report, called "Hawaii's Expanding Tech Sector," estimated that Hawaii has 600 biotechnology positions, which the state included in its total figures.

The state got its data from 1996-99 wage reports from the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. To estimate biotechnology jobs, state economists had to make a judgment call based on a closer look at local biotech companies, the report said.

The state's numbers also include retail and service functions, such as sales jobs at computer store CompUSA. Those jobs were included to illustrate the indirect benefits of technology to Hawaii businesses, said Robert Shore, researcher for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which released its study in May.

As previously reported in the Star-Bulletin, the state also included local radio show personalities in its report.

The national study, prepared by the American Electronics Association and the Nasdaq stock market, does not include retail positions or radio show hosts. "We do not include personalities of that kind. We just include tech personalities," said Taryn Lynds, spokeswoman for the American Electronics Association, a trade association that recently abbreviated its name to AeA.

"They focus more on manufacturing and what you might call 'hard goods,'" Shore said. Hawaii, compared with California and Texas, doesn't have much in the way of computer and chip manufacturing, he said.

Taking a broader approach makes it easier for the state to compare Hawaii with other states, Shore said.

He noted that the department continues to improve its methodology for its high-tech surveys, and will study the new report.

In the new report, Hawaii ranked No. 48 out of all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia for the total number of high-tech jobs, an expected feat, considering that the islands are home to a relatively smaller population. Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana and Wyoming were at the bottom. California and Texas led the nation.

The good news for Hawaii is that the state gained 1,700 high-tech jobs in the private sector, a 26 percent increase between 1994 and 2000, the national report said.

Hawaii has 544 high-tech establishments, producing a total of $413 million in payroll, with an average wage of $50,650, the report said. Hawaii earned a ranking of No. 28 for wages.

The state also ranked 31st in venture capital investments and 17th in the number of homes with access to the Internet.

Nationally, high-tech employment rose 3.9 percent to 5.3 million jobs in 2000 from 5.1 million jobs in 1999, the national report said.

The fastest-growing tech states were California, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, D.C., and Washington state.


High-tech facts

How the state ranks in the high-tech industry, according to a survey by the American Electronics Association and the Nasdaq stock market.

Jobs: 8,353
Establishments: 544
Payroll: $413 million
Average wage: $50,650
Percent of total exports: 13

Hawaii's rankings

Including 50 states, Puerto Rico and District of Columbia.

>> 48th in high-tech employment
>> 28th in high-tech average wage
>> 41st in research and development spending per capita
>> 31st in venture capital investments
>> 17th in home Internet access

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