New York's tech industry leads city in job growth: Report

Mayor Bill de Blasio at the offices of Mayor Bill de Blasio at the offices of Bounce Exchange, a tech company, after a press conference with New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli (right). Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

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New York City's tech industry has gotten so strong it's outpacing other business sectors at a 4-to-1 pace, according to the New York State comptroller.

State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released an extensive report Monday that showed 7,000 companies that specialize in software, telecommunications, hardware and other high-tech related services had more than 100,000 jobs last year.

The report said that the tech industry has grown by 33 percent since 2009 with 25,000 jobs added. The rest of the city's economy, meanwhile, grew by 8 percent during that period.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was on hand for DiNapoli's announcement, said all New Yorkers are benefiting from these companies' growth because the city and state have invested millions into the business sector and it has produced a high rate of return.

"The numbers here . . . are really impressive,' he said. "[It is] a smart investment strategy that's working for us."

DiNapoli's report showed that tech employees are reaping the financial benefits from those public and private investments. Wages for tech firms rose to the highest level on record and represented 3.8 percent of all wages paid in the city.

The average annual salary for a tech industry worker in the city was $118,600 in 2012 compared to $79,500 for other jobs. (The average dips to $65,400 when securities jobs are excluded). The comptroller said startups and bigger companies like Google recognize the advantages to operating in a city that is home to several industrial sectors and those nontech firms benefit from the new products and services.

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"We have come a long way since the dot-com bubble burst," DiNapoli said.

Ryan Urban, the co-founder and CEO of the SoHo-based Internet tech firm Bounce Exchange, agreed and said there is a lot of potential in the New York workforce. He noted that his company started out with six people but over the years he was able to recruit experienced, highly educated employees and he now has a staff of 48.

"The people who come to this area are busting their butts," he said.

Suri Duitch, the dean of Continuing Education at CUNY, said the city has a different appeal for up-and-coming entrepreneurs that other cities can't replicate.

"It's a confluence of a lot of different things including the attractiveness of New York City as a place to live," she said.

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Katepalli Sreenivasan, the dean at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, agreed and said the comptroller's report will help pave the way for more investment and emphasis on tech based education

"It quantifies what we have known and have been living through the last few years," he said in a statement. "We can also say with some assurance that the diversity of jobs created within the tech economy is likely to allow for its sustained success."

De Blasio and DiNapoli brushed aside a New York Times report Monday that said success rate for tech companies in the city has been underwhelming and hasn't matched California's Silicon Valley limelight. DiNapoli argued that the buzz for the city's tech scene is strong and the overall financial gains are just starting to get attention.

"That is the purpose of the report, to show what's going on on the ground," the comptroller said.

The mayor, who added that he will be making major announcements about the city's plan for the industry during Internet week next month, cited the growing presence of educational programs as a key to its future to making New York a must-go destination for future tech wizards.

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"The growth of the industry here . . . is well established in the world," de Blasio said.

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