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Idaho ranks No. 2 in tech sector growth

A worker at Micron Technology, Inc. File photo.

A worker at Micron Technology, Inc. File photo.

Thanks to large employers like Micron, Idaho has the second-fastest-growing tech sector in the country behind Utah.

Idaho’s tech sector grew by 6.3 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to CompTIA’s 2016 Cyber States Report.

The state saw an increase of 1,925 technology jobs in 2015 to a total of 32,600. Tech jobs in Idaho had an average wage of $90,400, which is 136 percent larger than the average wage in Idaho, according to the report.

Most of the jobs, 8,500, are in semiconductor manufacturing for companies like Micron and On Semiconductor, 7,600 are in research and development testing labs such as those for the Idaho National Laboratory and companies like HP and Micron, and 3,700 are in computer systems design at medium-size companies like TSheets and new startups.

Despite the job growth, though, Idaho still has 2,300 unfilled positions, according to the report. Because Idaho doesn’t graduate enough students in technology fields to fill its jobs, the state relies heavily on attracting talent from other parts of the country, but some of Idaho’s neighbors are formidable competition. Washington pays the nation’s second highest average wages, after California, at $129,400. Utah’s technology sector grew by 8 percent in 2015 although  it only pays an average wage of about $77,000 for technology jobs.

“Utah has grown tremendously, but one reason for that is its access to talent,” said Jay Larsen, president of the Idaho Technology Council. “A lot of the companies that are growing here have to pay higher wages to attract people to the area.”

Idaho has 2,744 businesses in the tech industry. About 15 percent of the workers in the industry are self-employed, according to the report.

About Benton Alexander Smith

Benton Alexander Smith is a reporter for the Idaho Business Review, covering the Idaho Legislature, new business, technology and financial services.