Ask someone to name a technology and information hub within the United States and they'll probably say San Francisco, or more specifically Silicon Valley. But what about Madison County, Alabama or Dane County, Wisconsin?
Those counties and nearly two dozen more might not have the name recognition of San Francisco, but they all have share a common statistic: strong growth in tech and information sector over the past five years. And according to an analysis by the Progressive Policy Institute, technology and information job growth has had a direct impact on how quickly counties recovered from the recession.
Counties with a high number of new tech/information sector jobs—between 2007 and 2012 have enjoyed substantially faster growth in both overall private employment and non-tech jobs over the same period, PPI says in its analysis.
PPI developed a tech/info job index to measure the number of new tech and information jobs between 2007 and 2012, as a share of 2007 total private sector employment in that county. An index of 1 means that new tech/info jobs equals 1 percent of total private employment.
On average, the top 25 counties showed an average private sector job gain of 2.4 percent over the five-year time frame. PPI notes while that might not seem like much, the remaining areas had a decline of 3.5 percent. In other words, a vibrant tech/info sector made the difference between a local economy that had recovered by 2012, and one that was still in decline.
The upshot? Policies that encourage technology and information growth are more likely to boost the overall economy and innovation creates well-paying jobs.
Thumbnail photo of Madison, Wis.: Flickr user Ryan Tir
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com