Looking for a pot of gold? Go to Seattle

California's Silicon Valley may be a high-tech mecca, but information age wizards looking for a pot of gold may be better off heading to Seattle, which is known as the Emerald City.by Scott Hillis, Reuters19 May 2000 - Home to digital age powerhouses such as software giant Microsoft Corp.

California's Silicon Valley may be a high-tech mecca, but information age wizards looking for a pot of gold may be better off heading to Seattle, which is known as the Emerald City.
by Scott Hillis, Reuters

19 May 2000 - Home to digital age powerhouses such as software giant Microsoft Corp., Washington state has the best-paid high-technology workers in the country, according to an industry group survey released on Wednesday.

Boosted by lucrative software jobs and a bullish stock market, high-tech workers in Washington earned an average of US$105,000 in 1998, the last year for which there was comprehensive data, the American Electronics Association said in a nationwide survey of the sector.

That was far more than workers in other states, with those in No. 2 New Jersey earning a much-lower average of US$68,700 a year, said Terry Byington, a spokeswoman for the AEA office in Redmond, Wash.

California, home to the Silicon Valley area that boasts hometown computing heroes like Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP) and is considered ground-zero for the computer revolution, placed third at US$66,900, Byington said.

Rounding out the Top 5 were Virginia at US$66,000 and Connecticut at US$65,400.

'Emerald City' gets greener
Washington led the nation "in good part because we have a strong concentration of software jobs here, and software jobs pay in Washington an average of US$200,000 a year," Byington said.

High-tech income was considerably better than the state's average private sector wage of US$32,914, the survey said.

Washington has led the nation in high-tech income for three years in a row, Byington said.

The 1998 wage doubled from six years earlier as the number of workers in the sector climbed by 52 percent, to 106,100. The sector also accounted for US$1.8 billion, or 5 percent, of the state's US$36.7 billion in exports in 1999, the survey said.

Other high-tech companies in Washington include Internet media software firm RealNetworks Inc., online retail giant Amazon.com Inc. , Internet portal and services company Go2Net Inc. and the U.S. headquarters of Japanese video company Nintendo Co. Ltd.

Most of those are concentrated in and around Seattle, known as the "Emerald City" for its abundant green forests and mountains that have also helped growing companies attract droves of new workers.

The survey also included income from exercising stock options, Byington said.

Such stock packages have brought many technology workers tremendous wealth. For example, previous studies have estimated that the booming stock market has turned up to one-third of Microsoft's 33,000 employees into millionaires.

Apart from software, other high-tech businesses covered in the survey included telecommunication services and equipment, medical electronics, computers, semiconductors and others, Byington said.

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