St. Louis Moves to the Front in Tech-Job Growth

By Nicklaus, David | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 19, 2013 | Go to article overview

St. Louis Moves to the Front in Tech-Job Growth


Nicklaus, David, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Some people in technology hotbeds such as Silicon Valley, Seattle or northern Virginia must be scratching their heads about what's going on in St. Louis.

Granted, the tech industry here is tiny by comparison, but St. Louis is starting to show up in statistics as a growth market. Dice.com, a technology recruiting site, says its listings are growing faster in St. Louis than in any large city in the country.

Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers confirm that in one key category, computer systems design, Missouri led the nation in percentage growth last year. (The BLS doesn't have specific metro- level data about the tech industry, but St. Louis accounts for around 40 percent of the state's economy. If Missouri is doing well, it's a good bet that St. Louis is leading the way.)

Then there is the anecdotal evidence. Boeing announced last week that it will develop a "center of excellence" here for information technology, moving as many as 600 jobs here from Seattle.

That's the head-scratching part. Why would a major company pull a critical operation out of the land of Microsoft and Amazon and put it in a city better known for beer and baseball?

Part of the answer is cost. The average tech job here pays $81,245, according to Dice.com, compared with $94,335 in Seattle and $101,278 in Silicon Valley. Employers also say that turnover is far lower here, so they can hire and develop people rather than constantly being raided for talent.

Being cheap, however, does not constitute a winning strategy. Plenty of other cities are as cheap as St. Louis

What employers such as Boeing and Hudson's Bay Co. and Unisys, two other companies that have expanded their technology operations here want most is a pool of qualified workers. …

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