Published Apr 20, 2021 by Josh Pherigo
Houston’s digital tech workforce grew last year, nudging the metro up to 11th place, ahead of Philadelphia but behind Atlanta in the rankings of the nation’s major tech centers. That’s according to Cyberstates 2021, the Computing Technology Industry Association’s (CompTIA) annual assessment of the U.S. tech sector.
The region added 8,100 tech workers in ’20, according to CompTIA’s estimates, bringing the total to 243,900. Houston overtook Detroit, which lost tech workers last year.
Cyberstates 2021 found that Houston had 9,286 tech establishments in ’20, up from 8,798 in ’19. Tech employment accounted for 7.5 percent of Houston’s total jobs in ’20, up from 7.2 percent in ’19. Tech occupation job postings totaled 63,324 in ’20, down 19.4 percent from ’19.
According to Cyberstates, Houston’s tech sector contributed $29.2 billion to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) in ’19, 5.6 percent of the total. That’s up from $28.4 billion in ’18. By comparison, tech contributed $37.9 billion to Austin’s economy, 25.3 percent of its GDP, while Dallas’s tech sector contributed $66.7 billion, 13.1 percent of GDP.
Cyberstates, which provides data for the U.S., all 50 states, and 46 major metro areas, is a respected and widely cited annual guide to the U.S. tech sector. The guide looks at all sectors involved in making, creating, enabling, integrating, and supporting technology in a region, whether as a product or service. One of the guide’s greatest strengths is that it examines a region’s tech workforce by occupation as well as industry, even when the occupation is in an industry most don’t consider “tech.” This helps level the playing field. For example, a web developer at Chevron would make the tech workforce tally for Cyberstates even though Chevron is not typically recognized as a tech company.
Fewer than a quarter of Houston’s net tech workers are in technical occupations at “tech” companies. That’s the lowest share of any Top 20 metro and it helps to explain why Houston isn’t a more visible tech hub. But it doesn’t mean the region lacks talent.
The report underscores just how much tech talent is embedded in non-tech industries in Houston. Most of Houston’s 155,400 tech occupations (engineers, coders, analysts) work outside the tech sector. Among large metros, Houston has the highest share of technical occupations embedded in non-tech sector companies.
Data in the Cyberstates report makes obvious the differences in the tech sectors of Texas top three metros. Dallas’s tech industry is weighted toward IT services, telecommunications and internet services, no surprise considering Dallas is home to AT&T. Austin’s tech industry has a strong presence in Tech Manufacturing, a nod to its chip manufacturing sector and computer makers like Dell and Apple. Houston’s tech sector is weighted toward research and development, testing and engineering services. Houston has more tech workers in R&D and engineering (68,782) than Austin and Dallas combined.
This report is excerpted from the April 2021 edition of Houston: Economy at a Glance. Learn more about Houston's tech sector and read the latest report examining the local ecosystem.