This article by Andy Blye, originally appeared in the Phoenix Business Journal.


A new report details the rapid growth of Arizona’s tech sector during the pandemic, ranking eighth in the nation for tech job gains in the past year.

What’s more, Arizona also ranked fifth in projected tech job growth from 2020 to 2030, showing that momentum is expected to continue for years to come.

The new Cyberstates 2021 report comes from the Computing Technology Industry Association, known simply as CompTIA. The full report is 150 pages and pulls data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to detail tech industry metrics at state and metro area levels.

The report named Phoenix, Austin, Raleigh, Charlotte, Detroit and Orlando as “under the radar” tech cities with sizable tech workforces.

In this year’s report Arizona ranked No. 8 in net tech employment job gains, adding an estimated 2,500 jobs in 2020 while most states had a net loss of tech jobs last year. CompTIA projected that Arizona would add another 6,900 tech jobs in 2021.

Net tech employment is a unique metric established by CompTIA that counts the people who actually do technological work at companies (like data scientists or software engineers), self-employed people doing tech work full time and all the other business professionals who work at tech companies like marketers or finance teams.

By this net tech employment measure, Arizona ranks 17th in the nation with 256,000 people working in and around tech across the state.

The pandemic slowed economic growth nationwide as it took the lives of more than 550,000 Americans, but previous reporting by the Business Journal has found that some Arizona’s tech companies adapted and grew in the past year.

Emerge, a logistics software company in Scottsdale, more than doubled its headcount in 2020; SmartRent in Scottsdale seized on growth to create a new vertical and ClearChecks, a software startup in Phoenix, saw business grow to more than pre-pandemic levels in the last year.

Still, not all Valley tech companies have survived the pandemic unscathed. Limelight Networks and ON Semiconductor have both recently announced layoffs.

Growing economic impact

CompTIA estimated that Arizona’s tech industry generates $34 billion in economic impact, which is just more than 10% of the state’s total economy. This figure is up several billion from last year’s Cyberstates report.

The largest tech industry in the state is advanced manufacturing with about 50,000 employees, which grew 2.3% from last year according to the report. This includes semiconductor producers like Microchip, NXP and Intel, which recently announced a $20 billion investment to expand its Chandler manufacturing site.

The impending arrival of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in Phoenix also brings promise of a massive economic impact. A TSMC supplier site was auctioned off last week and local suppliers are gearing up to support the new plant.

Some 8.2% of Arizonans work in tech, which ranked 11th highest in the nation for concentration of tech workers. Neighboring California, Colorado and Utah each outranked Arizona on this metric, showing a regional wealth of tech workers.

Donald Sheldon, career and technical education teacher at Metro Tech High School in Phoenix, said that Arizona is a prime place to locate tech companies.

“A trajectory of new growth in IT industries and professions are expected to pick back up in the state of Arizona, as companies continue to examine this state as a good potential for housing cloud-based computing,” he said in a statement accompanying the Cyberstates report. “With ample open land space for development, no major flooding issues and no major earthquake zones, Arizona is well positioned to maximize this growth.”

Results for the Phoenix metro area mirror that of the state as a whole, with the majority of job gains coming in and around the state’s capital city.

Click here to explore the interactive Cyberstates 2021 report.