Technology

Study: Dallas Is Bleeding Innovation Jobs as Techies Head for the Coasts

The Brookings Institution warns against a migration of the highest-tech jobs.

Dallas’ ongoing push to be recognized as one of the nation’s leading tech hubs took a public relations hit this week. A study from the Brookings Institution shows that the city bled a half-percent of its share of the country’s innovation sector jobs from 2005 through 2017.

It is in very good company. The study’s main takeaway: just five metros, all of them along the coasts, made gains among these high-paying, highly technical areas over the study’s 12-year period. They are Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and San Diego. A third of the country’s innovation jobs now reside in 16 counties.

“The share of those jobs shrank dramatically in would-be hubs such as Chicago, Durham, N.C., Philadelphia, Dallas and Wichita, researchers found, with the bottom 90 percent of U.S. metro areas collectively losing one-third of these positions in the same period,” wrote the Washington Post, summarizing the findings.

The study puts the 13 highest-tech, highest-R&D industries in the innovation sector, things like pharma manufacturing, communications equipment manufacturing, and data processing. DFW lost 8,969 of these jobs during the dozen years. That’s the third-largest loss of any metro.

Dallas is not the sort of place you’d expect to birth a billion dollar app. But its tech community is big and sprawling and productive, with products that often toil behind the scenes. Which makes it somewhat surprising to see DFW, especially amid so much corporate relocation, shrinking by the study’s measure.

Maybe that underscores the allure of these coastal hubs, as well as the researchers’ urgency. They call for “a rigorous competitive process by which the most promising eight to 10 potential growth centers … would receive substantial financial and regulatory support for 10 years to get ‘over the hump’ and become self-sustaining new innovation centers.”

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