Greater Philadelphia added 420 new tech jobs in 2017, CompTIA report says
March 28, 2018
Michelle Caffrey, Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
A new report from CompTIA shows tech job growth in Philadelphia stayed flat from 2016 to 2017, adding just 420 net tech jobs. That puts the region 34th in terms of net tech employment jobs added, but with about 222,200 tech workers in Greater Philadelphia, the region ranks as 13th in the country for overall net tech employment.
Putting a figure on overall net tech employment marks the first time CompTIA noted that statistic in its annual Cyberstates report, which draws data from EMSI, federal agencies and Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights. CompTIA created the net tech employment metric to be able to include technical workers who don’t work for a tech company, like an IT employee at a hospital, and full-time self-employed tech workers.
“We’ve been leaving out a lot of jobs in the past because we only looked at the tech industry,” said Preston Grisham, senior manager of public policy communications at CompTIA.
Nationally, tech jobs in the country grew by 200,000 from 2016 to 2017 for a total of 11.5 million nationwide. That means the national economy has added 1.5 million jobs since 2010, when it hit its lowest point in the past decade with 10 million tech workers, and steadily increased by about 200,000 each year.
In the Philadelphia region, there are 141,600 people whose individual occupations are in a technical field, whether at a tech company or not. In just the tech industry, 8,398 tech "business establishments" — defined as firms with a payroll — in the region employ 133,600 people in both technical and non-technical positions like accounting or marketing.
Out of all jobs at tech companies, 44 percent are in technical roles like software engineering, and 56 percent are not.
That’s why the survey continues to measure all tech industry employment even after bringing in the net employment metric, since those statistics demonstrate the overall economic impact of tech companies in the region through also employing financial professionals, sales staff and other support roles.
The CompTIA survey estimates that tech companies contributed $33.4 billion to the Philadelphia economy in 2017, about 8.8 percent of its gross regional product. The region ranked 21st overall in terms of percent of GRP coming from the tech industry.
Greater Philadelphia saw a loss of 720 positions at tech companies from 2016 to 2017, a 0.5 percent decrease.
Grisham cautioned that when looking at these numbers on the metro-level, just one company can skew annual results, like a big layoff of support staff at a tech firm.
“A single company or two can have a big impact on that number,” he said, noting there are still 64,830 job postings for technical positions in the region, whether at a tech company or another organization. “There are still people out there trying to fill technology jobs.”
The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia has been focusing on the tech workforce in recent years as it seeks to cultivate growth in the sector. Its new executive director, Jeff Hornstein, said the organization is familiar with the Cyberstates report and looked at it in its analysis of the workforce that was released last May.
It “does a nice job of providing very high-level comparisons between states and metros,” he said in an email, but added its definition of the tech workforce is “very broad” and includes not just tech services but also manufacturing, so technicians, installation and repair professionals and occupations in advanced manufacturing are also included.
“There’s nothing wrong with that approach, but it can obscure trends within the component industries and occupations,” Hornstein said. The Economy League instead zeroed in on only positions in information technology, since to them it “provided more of a nexus to the conversation around tech talent in our region (e.g. how a Comcast or Vanguard meets their hiring needs for software developers; the push for computer science education in Philadelphia schools; the great organizations like TechImpact that train individuals for IT help desk and support jobs).”
In that sense, he was drawn to the Cyberstates data on the fastest growing tech occupations in the region. According to the CompTIA report, software and web developers make up the largest portion of the tech workforce in the region, with 27,790, a 1.2 percent year-over-year increase in the category. Information security analysts came in behind with 14,860, a boost of 1.3 percent year over year, and 14,230 workers are network architects, administrators and support specialists, a group that saw a 2 percent increase from 2016.
“[It's a] positive sign to see continued growth in these occupations, although it is fairly modest growth compared to other regions,” he said. Hornstein also pointed out that while Philadelphia’s job growth overall has been strong in the past two years, other regions are growing even faster, so it makes sense that trend would be reflected in the tech workforce as well.