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

San Diego and just four other coastal metropolitan areas accounted for 90% of the growth in American technology jobs over a 12-year period, raising concerns about an emerging “winner-take-most” national economy.

That was the finding of a report released Monday by the prestigious Brookings Institution, which found that advanced technology companies are increasingly concentrated in only a handful of very high-cost hubs, disadvantaging cities in the heartland of the country.

“Just five top innovation metro areas—Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and San Diego—accounted for more than 90% of the nation’s innovation-sector growth during the years 2005 to 2017,” the report found.

This concentration creates “high levels of territorial polarization,” the report said, and constitutes a “grave national problem.”

“Many Americans reside far from the opportunities associated with the nation’s innovation centers, undercutting economic inclusion and raising social justice issues,” the report concluded.

The new report—titled “The case for growth centers: How to spread tech innovation across America”— proposes that Congress select a group of 10 promising metro areas to receive major federal funding to create regional innovation centers.

“America’s successful tech hubs haven’t emerged by accident—most are products of deliberate policy choices and federal government support,” said Robert D. Atkinson, report co-author and president of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “A strong federal
effort focused on helping some metros transition into self-sustaining tech hubs can help more Americans benefit from the significant opportunities enabled by high-tech industry growth.”

The report also noted that because the current tech hubs are so costly, there is rising “innovation offshoring,” which risks moving technology development outside of the United States.

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