When it comes to adding technology jobs, not all states are created equal. A new Dice analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that, despite the national attention lavished on well-established tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and New York City’s Silicon Alley, smaller states often see the largest year-over-year percentage gains in new tech professionals.
Because many of these smaller states have a relatively tiny number of tech pros living within their borders, even incremental increases in headcount can translate into significant percentage gains. In states such as New York, on the other hand, many thousands of tech workers would need to join the workforce in order to make any significant difference in the overall numbers.
In the past few years, many of these smaller states have begun to aggressively cultivate tech communities, recognizing that tech hubs can translate into significant tax bases. This can also spike the growth rate.
But even as some smaller states make aggressive jumps up the list, old stalwarts continue to hold high rankings. Well-developed tech hubs always draw tech workers, especially since many of them boast mature university systems that can pipeline workers right into the local economy. Despite its sheer size, for example, California continues to enjoy a placement on this list, thanks in large part to dual tech hubs in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
With all that in mind, here are the eight states that enjoyed the largest percentage gains in tech workers in the first six months of 2016:
For the second year in a row, Utah ranks high in the list of fastest-growing states for technology jobs, thanks in large part to a lot of activity around Salt Lake City, which saw an 85 percent increase in tech-job postings last year. Salt Lake City offers a number of incentives for both startups and well-established tech firms: low taxes, a collection of local schools producing skilled workers, and the infrastructure to support both businesses and lifestyles. E-commerce retailers, video-game developers, and a few large software-makers all call the city home.
Outside of Salt Lake City, corporations and government agencies ranging from eBay to the National Security Agency (NSA) have taken advantage of the state’s wide-open spaces to build enormous datacenters. While individual datacenters don’t necessarily create a ton of jobs (sophisticated automation ensures that even the largest facilities only need a few dozen people to run), they can spark a good deal of local infrastructure investment—as well as attract other tech companies to the area.
For the past few years, in fits and starts, Detroit has attempted to retool itself as a technology hub. These efforts hinge not only on the automotive industry, which has added technology positions as it attempts to make vehicles “smarter,” but also traditional technology firms such as Amazon, which have opened offices in the city. Technology companies interested in autonomous driving, such as Google, have established labs in the Detroit area.
That influx of technology workers, in turn, has led to higher salaries. Earlier this year, a Dice analysis suggested that the average tech salary in Michigan grew 9.3 percent year-over-year, to reach $89,876.
Birmingham and Huntsville have retooled as up-and-coming technology hubs, hoping to pull in startups and investment. A few years ago, for example, Birmingham started the Innovation Depot, an incubator that encourages local tech firms to grow. Around that same time, Boeing set up a new research and development center in Huntsville.
Like many growing tech states, Alabama boasts a low cost of living relative to Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley, making it attractive to tech professionals who don’t want to spend the majority of their take-home pay on rent or a mortgage. And don’t discount the lifestyle amenities: Birmingham, for example, has some awesome food trucks.