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Recession hit IT wages across U.S.

Patrick Thibodeau | Dec. 9, 2010
The downturn's impact varied sharply by region; Silicon Valley pay fell 10%

The cities that saw the largest percentage gains in employment were in the smaller markets. In Huntsville, Ala., for example, tech employment grew 2.4% last year, as 900 jobs were added to bring the total to 36,000.

Tech wages in Huntsville increased, too, rising 4% last year. That brought average tech salaries there to $74,747.

Kent Smith, director of research and information service for the Chamber of Commerce in Huntsville, which is in Madison County, attributed a major share of the employment increase to government spending. "Federal spending is about half of our local economy," said Smith, who noted that the Army has expanded in the area as well. The region has numerous defense contractors, as well as commercial technology development in life sciences, he said.

Huntsville is also home to the Cummings Research Park, which Smith said is the second largest research park in the U.S. with some 25,000 employees. The largest is Research Triangle Park between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C.; about 42,000 people work there.

Another area that did well in the Cybercities ranking was Oklahoma City, where the addition of about 900 jobs in 2009 increased tech employment 5.4% to 18,300 jobs.

Oklahoma City's average tech salary was $51,803, which represented a decrease of 2.4%. That was one of the lowest average salaries identified in the report.

Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said the area has low unemployment thanks to the energy, biosciences and aviation industries, which all employ IT professionals. Boeing recently announced plans to relocate some operations from Long Beach, Calif., to Oklahoma City -- a move that will add about 500 jobs.

Williams said that Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma generally suffered a "depression" in the late 1980s that changed the business culture and helped the area avoid speculation in real estate and commercial properties. "We didn't get ourselves in the position of having too much inventory of everything," he said.


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