A scientist working at a San Diego life sciences company. Image from CONNECT video

Innovative technology companies account for just over 11 percent of local jobs, but pay double the average wage and are leading San Diego’s economic growth.

That is the conclusion of a report released Thursday by the National University System Institute for Policy Research that examined the strengths of San Diego’s innovation economy.

Among the 25 largest metro areas in the nation, San Diego stands alone as the most diverse technologically concentrated region, said Kelly Cunningham, economist and senior fellow.

In a comparison of eight general sectors of technology employment defined by the Census Bureau, only San Diego had seven technology concentrated sectors. San Francisco and Seattle follow with five sectors each.

Cunnningham’s’s team found the following levels of employment in different tech sectors in 2014:

  • Biotech/Pharmaceuticals/Biomedical — 33,423
  • Software — 28,782
  • Communications Equipment — 27,822
  • Defense and Transportaiton — 24,029
  • Environmental Technology — 10,905
  • Computers and Electronics — 10,598
  • Other Tech Consulting Services — 9,436
  • Recreational Goods — 2,296

San Diego’s significant diversity and strength among technology endeavors is a powerful force driving the regional economy. Technical diversity is particularly advantageous as technologies converge,” Cunningham said. “For example, the merging of telecommunications with biomed diagnostic equipment and computer and electronic monitoring systems has immense possibilities and advantages with each technology cluster having strong concentrations in San Diego.

As of 2014, technology companies accounted for 11.1 percent of payroll jobs and 22 percent of total wages. The average wage of workers employed by technology companies is $114,300, 2.3 times higher than the average of non-tech San Diego companies at $49,700.

In addition to paying higher wages, companies in the technology sectors are adding more jobs. Tech company payrolls increased 7.1 percent in 2014, versus 4.7 percent for other sectors.

The complete report is available online.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.