A recent analysis of 2007 employment data by TechAmerica has bucked Michigan from its position in the top ten states for high-tech employment, the Detroit News reports. In its "Cyberstates 2009" report, Georgia managed to clench Michigan's former tenth spot as the state lost 174,800 tech jobs.
According to Ed Longanecker of Tech America Midwest, the state's dependence upon the auto industry has yet again been a curse to its economy. Michigan, says Longanecker, is in a period of transition from an industry that had long been the anchor of its economy to others that are still relatively fresh, requiring time to expand their role in the state's struggling economy. Longanecker also notes that many of the high-tech jobs lost in Michigan were those pruned by domestic automakers, whose cost-cutting measures were too large to be counterbalanced by the efforts of the state's infant tech sectors.
A separate article in the Detroit News reports that the Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte metro areas in North Carolina are absorbing much of Michigan's tech talent. Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte are now the top two spots for relocated Michiganders, whose mass exodus from the their native state has been the second largest in the nation, exceeded only by that of New York's college-educated expatriate workforce.
According to an executive summary of TechAmerica's report, North Carolina added 5500 tech jobs, a net growth that places fourth in the report, following Georgia, Washington, and Texas.
The success of North Carolina's tech sector has been attributed to an early emphasis on technology as an integral part of an early diversification effort, beginning in 1959 with the establishment of Research Triangle Park, which now hosts such big-name corporate residents as IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, and Nortel. The presence of a well-established tech sector in North Carolina allowed the state to absorb the blows from a mass-closure of textile mills, once the heart and soul of its economy.
Some positive news has surfaced, however, amongst a myriad of mostly negative statistics regarding hight-tech employment in Michigan. The high-tech payroll in Michigan increased by approximately $500 billion in 2007, and high-tech workers' earnings were 81 percent higher than the private sector's average..