North America's High-Tech Economy:
The Geography of Knowledge-Based Industries

Jun 01, 2009

North America's High-Tech Economy: The Geography of Knowledge-Based Industries ranks the top high-tech centers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico in their ability to grow and sustain thriving high-tech industries.

The full interactive data on 393 high-tech regions in North America and 19 specific high-tech industries are available here. An executive summary is available here.

Slides on the report presented at the 2009 IEDC Technology-Led Economic Development Conference by Ross DeVol are available here.

Silicon Valley, the largest and most influential high-tech center in the world, continues to lead all other metropolitan regions in North America in the breadth and scope of economic activity it creates through technological innovation. But many other metros have built strong and diverse industries that should allow them to prosper when the global economy recovery.

The top ten high-tech centers in North America are:

2007 Ranking2003 RankingMetro AreaTotal High Tech Score
1 1 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 100.0
2 3 Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA 46.4
3 2 Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA 45.2
4 5 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 41.8
5 4 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA 40.2
6 6 Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX 21.8
7 7 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 19.3
8 11 Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA 17.7
9 9 New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ 16.8
10 8 San Francisco - San Mateo-Redwood City, CA 16.1

The study includes benchmarking for 2003 for metros in the United States and Canada and states in Mexico. (This was the latest available data for Mexico and the best way to ensure an accurate analysis. Mexico does not have data available at the metro level.) The 2007 benchmarking data is the latest available data for U.S. and Canadian metros.

Like most of the economy, the high-tech sector has taken a beating in the last six months, but recent numbers shows that these cuts may be leveling off and the sector could be primed to once again be an engine of sustainable growth when recovery begins to take root.

Cities with strong high-tech bases will perform best as the economy recovers because the jobs generated by these fields pay so well. That's why so many regions have worked tirelessly - with tax breaks and other incentives - to attract high-tech industries, whether computer manufacturing, medical devices development or life sciences research.

The report is an update to the Institute's 1999 publication, America's High-Tech Economy: Growth, Development and Risks for Metropolitan Areas, a groundbreaking study that was one of the first to show the importance of high-tech industry to regional economic growth. The new study has been expanded to include Canada and Mexico, highlighting the integration that has occurred in this industry in the last decade. The methodology has also been modified to move away from a strictly output-based measurement and instead provide a better assessment of the impact on the communities by assessing employment and wages, in addition to the relative concentrations of employment and wages to other metros in North America.

The report was sponsored, in part, by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.