Sectors with big shares of STEM jobs are leading the recovery, with metro Seattle enjoying large numbers of these core technology positions.

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The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area turned in strong numbers in advanced industries in 2015, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.

The region had 308,210 full-time workers in such R&R-intensive industries, accounting for nearly 16 percent of all jobs. That employment share ranked us No. 2 among the top 100 U.S. metros behind only Silicon Valley. Metro Seattle had the 10th largest number of advanced sector jobs nationally, with New York City in the lead.

Mark Muro, a Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program fellow, said, “Seattle remains the second most dense advanced industry metro in the country, but its growth shifted in the last two years.  From 2014 to 2015, softness prevailed in the huge aircraft manufacturing industry while digital services picked up the pace.”

The think tank defines advanced industries as ones spending at least $450 per worker on research and development and employing at least 20 percent of their workforce in STEM-intensive fields. They have been at the vanguard of growth in the nation’s economic expansion.  “Their competitiveness and growth are prerequisites for any future broadly shared prosperity,” the report states. “As such, the sector encompasses the country’s best shot at supporting innovative, inclusive, and sustainable growth.”

Locally, the jobs paid an average $120,851 vs. an average $67,276 in all industries. They accounted for more than 32 percent of all the metro area’s output. Aircraft products and parts, software products, computer systems design, engineering, management consulting and web search portals and internet publishing were the top advanced sectors here.

Seattle ranked lower in the percent change of jobs from 2013 to 2015, up 2.1 percent and ranking No. 50. Advanced industries jobs grew 4.2 percent from 2010 to 2013.

Elsewhere in the Northwest: Boise ranked No. 79 out of 100 metros in advanced industry jobs; Portland 20, and Spokane 92.

Back to Seattle. Muro told me, “You should know that the vagaries of federal establishment classification mean that neither Amazon nor Expedia are picked up, meaning that the region is actually better than depicted here. Basically, we know we underrepresent advanced industry growth in the Seattle region because of how some of the major tech employers are categorized.”


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