Information Technology in the Metro Area
By Tim O'Neill
Information Technology (IT) is a unique and highly concentrated aspect of the Seven-County Metro Area's labor market. This Employment Review article will shine the spotlight on the occupations and industries associated with IT, including their employment, wages, educational requirements, and demand in the region. The article will also highlight female employment within IT occupations and industries.
Computer and Mathematical Occupations
With labor market data, IT is often associated with Computer and Mathematical Occupations. This major occupational group accounts for approximately 83,760 jobs in the Seven-County Metro Area, which represents over 85% of Minnesota's total employment in this group. For reference, the Metro Area accounts for about 63% of the state's total employment across all occupational groups. Where Computer and Mathematical Occupations account for 3.6% of Minnesota's total employment, they account for 4.9% of the Metro Area's total employment. Computer and Mathematical Occupations are highly concentrated in the Metro Area.
Table 1 reveals specific employment and wage data for Computer and Mathematical Occupations within the Metro Area. As can be seen, these 16 occupations are associated with higher wages. The largest employing of these occupations, Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers, has a median hourly wage of $52.74. Working full-time and year-round, this amounts to $109,699. This is more than twice the respective median annual income for a full-time and year-round worker across all occupations, $51,854. For the total of all Computer and Mathematical Occupations, the median hourly wage of $46.25 equates to an annual full-time and year-round wage of $96,200. This is also nearly twice that of the annual full-time and year-round wage across all occupations. In fact, the 10th percentile annual wage for a full-time and year-round worker in Computer and Mathematical Occupations, $55,120, is above the median annual wage across all occupations. Clearly these occupations are high paying, even at entry levels.
|Table 1. Metro Area Computer and Mathematical Occupations Employment Statistics
Sorted by Employment
||Hourly Wage Percentiles
||Total, All Occupations
||Computer and Mathematical Occupations
||Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
||Computer Systems Analysts
||Computer User Support Specialists
||Network and Computer Systems Administrators
||Computer Network Support Specialists
||Computer Occupations, All Other
||Operations Research Analysts
||Database Administrators and Architects
||Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers
||Computer Network Architects
||Information Security Analysts
||Data Scientists and Mathematical Science Occupations, All Other
||Computer and Information Research Scientists
|Source: DEED Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics
While Computer and Mathematical Occupations come with higher wages, they also come with higher educational requirements. According to the DEED's Occupations in Demand data tool, of 15 specific Computer and Mathematical Occupations, along with Computer and Information Systems Managers, typical education requirements for entry level positions in Minnesota were as follows:
- Postsecondary Non-Degree Award: 1
- Associate Degree: 2
- Bachelor's Degree: 11
- Doctoral or Professional Degree: 2
Beyond these typical education requirements, many Computer and Mathematical Occupations call for additional certifications, licenses, and experience. This may vary not only among the specific occupations within this group but among those industries and employers hiring. Whatever the industry or occupation, though, important qualities for candidates in this field include analytical skills, communication skills, creativity, problem-solving skills, and being detail oriented.
Computer User Support Specialists is the one Computer and Mathematical Occupation that typically requires less than a bachelor's degree. In this case, the typical education required is a postsecondary non-degree award. More specific routes into this occupation may include a high school diploma plus relevant information technology (IT) certifications, the completion of some college courses in areas such as networking or information security, or the completion of an associate degree. In the Metro Area, examples of various program titles related to Computer User Support Specialists include IT Support, PC Technician, CompTIA Operations Specialist, Healthcare Systems Technology, and Healthcare Informatics.
IT in Industries
|Table 2. Leading Industries for Computer and Mathematical Occupations
||Statewide Median Wage
|Professional and Business Services
|Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
|Education and Health Services
|Leisure and Hospitality
|Natural Resources and Mining
|Source: DEED Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics
An important and unique characteristic of IT is its presence within all industry sectors. Table 2 reveals how the total of all Computer and Mathematical Occupations are distributed statewide among the 11 industry supersectors. As can be seen, Professional and Business Services accounts for nearly half (46.1%) of the state's total employment within this occupational group. Financial Activities; Manufacturing; Information; Trade, Transportation, and Utilities; Educational and Health Services; and Public Administration also employ a significant number of Computer and Mathematical Occupations.
Analyzing national level staffing patterns through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals those more specific industries with the highest concentrations of IT jobs. In-depth industry sectors with at least 10% of their respective total employment made up of Computer and Mathematical Occupations include Computer Systems Design and Related Services (Computer and Mathematical Occupations account for 54.7% of total employment in this industry); Software Publishers (49.2%); Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing (30.2%); Communications Equipment Manufacturing (18.0%); Cable and Other Subscription Programming (15.4%); Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing (12.9%); Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers (12.7%); Scientific Research and Development Services (12.5%); Insurance Carriers (12.3%); Manufacturing and Reproducing Magnetic and Optical Media (12.2%); Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services (11.2%); Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing (11.0%); and Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses (10.6%).
Women in IT
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2020 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates, the Seven-County Metro Area had approximately 85,586 workers in Computer and Mathematical Occupations during the 2016-2020 period. Of these nearly 85,600 workers, just over one-quarter (25.2%) were female. This equated to more than an estimated 21,600 female workers. While significant, the share of female workers in Computer and Mathematical Occupations is notably lower than the female share of total employment in the region, 48.4%.
In terms of median annual income female workers in Computer and Mathematical Occupations earned about $36,600 more than female workers across all occupations in the Metro Area. Even so, female workers in Computer and Mathematical Occupations in the Metro earned about 85% of what their male counterparts earned. For the total of all occupations, female workers in the Metro earned about 72% of what their male counterparts earned.
|Table 3. Metro Area Civilian Employed Population 16+ in Computer and Mathematical Occupations, 2020
||Female Median Annual Earnings
||Computer and Mathematical
|Source: 2016-2020 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
In terms of employment growth the number of Computer and Mathematical Occupations in the Metro Area increased by 18.4% between the 2015 ACS 5-year estimates and the 2020 ACS 5-year estimates, about 13,300 jobs. This growth was nearly three times faster than that for the total of all occupations in the region during that period (6.4%). By gender, female employment in this occupational group increased by 11.9%, about 2,300 jobs, while male employment increased by 20.7%, about 11,000 jobs. Of the 13,300 new Computer and Mathematical Occupations in the Metro Area between the 2015 and 2020 ACS estimates, 82.6% were held by men, and 17.4% were held by women.
Zooming out, data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Quarterly Workforce Indicators allow for the analysis of employment demographics by industry sector. Figure 1 highlights female employment trends in the Metro Area for Computer Systems Design and Related Services, the in-depth industry sector with the highest share of Computer and Mathematical Occupations. This graph also highlights female employment trends in the region for Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, or that major industry sector that Computer Systems Design and Related Services falls into.1 As of 2021 about one-third (32.5%) of total jobs within Computer Systems Design and Related Industries were held by female workers. This was equivalent to approximately 10,750 jobs. The share of female employment in this industry has essentially remained unchanged over the past two decades, up by one percentage point from where it was in 1995. The share of female employment in this industry fell to 28.1% in 2003 and has only slightly increased since that time.
The share of female employment in the larger Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services industry sector was just under half (46.8%) for the Metro Area in 2021. This share equaled 49.8% in 1995 and has fallen slightly or held flat in each year since.
Looking again at those in-depth industries in which Computer and Mathematical Occupations are highly concentrated, the female share of statewide employment in 2021 was:
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services: 32.7%
- Software Publishers: 34.4%
- Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing: 28.2%
- Communications Equipment Manufacturing: 31.4%
- Cable and other Subscription Programming: 50.9%
- Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing: 39.1%
- Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers: 38.7%
- Scientific Research and Development Services: 53.0%
- Insurance Carriers: 58.5%
- Manufacturing and Reproducing Magnetic and Optical Media: 36.9%
- Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services: 49.4%
- Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing: 31.7%
- Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses: 58.2%
Concluding IT All
Information Technology, commonly broken down into Computer and Mathematical Occupations, is both uniquely concentrated and highly in-demand in the Seven-County Metro Area. As of 2021, 12 of the 15 specific occupations within this group, along with Computer and Information Systems Managers in Management Occupations, showed high or very high demand in the region based on total employment and job vacancies. Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers, Computer Systems Analysts, Computer User Support Specialists, Computer and Information Systems Managers, and Network and Computer Systems Administrators were those IT occupations with the highest demand. These high-demand IT occupations come with high wages, but also typically require higher levels of post-secondary education.
With the high demand for workers in IT occupations in the Metro Area, one vital goal for workforce developers, educational institutions, employers, and other key stakeholders in the regional and statewide labor markets is to encourage more women to enter IT occupations and industries. This is especially so as labor market conditions in the region continue to tighten.
1Along with Computer Systems Design and Related Services, the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services major industry sector includes Legal Services; Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services; Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services; Specialized Design Services; Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services; Scientific Research and Development Services; Advertising and Related Services; and Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services.