Long Island Association president Kevin Law (Dec. 6, 2010)

Long Island Association president Kevin Law (Dec. 6, 2010) Credit: Ed Betz, 2010

New York State lost about 5,000 technology jobs last year but still ranked third nationwide in this key employment sector, a new report shows.

TechAmerica Foundation, the research division of an industry trade group in Washington, found 294,702 New Yorkers held tech jobs in 2010. More than half were in two categories -- computer systems design and related services or Internet and telecommunications services.

Besides having the most tech employment after California and Texas, New York also was third in the two kinds of tech positions: manufacturing and services. The state was particularly strong in computer training, research labs and production of communications equipment, semiconductors and defense systems. The latter category has many players locally.

TechAmerica officials couldn't provide a breakdown of tech jobs in Nassau and Suffolk counties. But some local experts said this week that the statewide trends were also evident here, particularly the shortage of skilled workers.

"This report shows New York is still high-tech," said William Wahlig, director of the Long Island Forum for Technology. Nationally, the state is known more as a center of finance and the arts than of technology jobs.

"We're doing particularly well in the software and cyberspace areas," Wahlig added.

Last year's job losses took place as technology employment shrank by 115,800 positions nationwide. New York ranked No. 9 in tech pink slips among the states, with the biggest contraction being in Internet and telecom, said TechAmerica's Matthew Kazmierczak.

New York also placed third in wages paid to tech workers, with payrolls totaling $26.8 billion. Wages averaged $90,799, or $30,390 more than typical private-sector pay.

Release of the report comes as business executives, academics and labor leaders on a regional council craft a five-year development plan due in Albany Nov. 14. It will compete for state tax credits and grants.

Kevin Law of the Long Island Association, who is helping lead the council, said TechAmerica's report reinforces that "technology has been and must continue to be a primary economic development driver on Long Island."

The region's prosperity, he and others said, will depend on having workers with math and science skills.

"We don't have the right skills for emerging jobs," said LIA economist Pearl Kamer, referring to green technology, bioscience, nanotechnology and wireless communications.

Council members have been exploring partnerships between business and education to increase the pool of workers.

"Long Island produces a lot of graduates, but they aren't in the right areas," said Joseph Cabral, human resources chief at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. "A lot of our graduates are teachers, but we're not hiring teachers."



New York's declining tech jobs


New York State lost about 5,000 technology jobs last year, although it maintained its No. 3 ranking among states as a center of technology employment. A new study found:


  • 294,702 New Yorkers worked in tech jobs last year, down 4,809, or 1.6 percent, from 2009



  • Job losses were heaviest in Internet and telecommunications services (-3,000 from 2009) and space/defense systems manufacturing and semiconductor manufacturing (-1,300 each)



  • Hiring was strongest in computer systems design and related services (+2,900)



  • Total tech payroll was $26.8 billion, with per-person wages averaging $90,799 a year



  • Total technology businesses were 20,653, down 167 from 2009



  • New York State ranked No. 3 nationally in both total employment and payroll, behind California and Texas.



  • NYS ranked No. 9 nationally in job losses



  • NYS ranked No. 4 nationally in number of technology businesses


SOURCE: TechAmerica Foundation report

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