Tech Opportunity for Minorities and Women: A Good News, Bad News Story

Can tech jobs be a source of economic opportunity and upward mobility for an increasingly diverse American population?

Yes—consider two key facts about the labor market recovery, both of which show the potential for tech jobs to empower communities and bring shared prosperity.

First, since the recovery began in 2009, tech has created almost as many jobs for college graduates as healthcare. Tech jobs, here defined as all computer and mathematical occupations across industries, include computer systems analysts, network architects, and statisticians. Over 2009-2014, these tech jobs added about 730,000 college-educated workers. By comparison, healthcare occupations—which include everything from doctors and nurses to lab technicians and therapists—added 787,000 workers with a college degree.

This near parity in tech and healthcare job creation is significant given healthcare has long been regarded as the most dependable force for job creation. A growing and aging U.S. population, alongside rising medical costs, are widely seen as keeping healthcare jobs in high demand.

Second, we find that college-educated blacks and Hispanics have benefited enormously from the tech jobs boom. From 2009 to 2014, blacks with a college degree gained slightly more tech jobs than healthcare jobs—employment rose by 79,000 in computer and mathematical occupations (a 58% increase), compared to 76,000 gain in healthcare occupations (an 18% increase). The number of Hispanics with a bachelor’s degree increased by 104,000 in the healthcare occupations (a 40% increase), not so far ahead of the 81,000 gain in computer and mathematical occupations (an impressive 103% increase).

Indeed, the opportunity tech jobs are creating for non-Asian minorities defies conventional stereotypes. That’s because the tech/info jobs boom is much broader than in Silicon Valley. Tech jobs are increasingly found across all industries and the country. Tech jobs are in finance, education, and government, and urban tech clusters are forming in U.S. cities such as New Orleans, New York, and Denver.

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