New England’s Cyber Economy Growing, Even as Manufacturing Shrinks

New England’s high-tech economy netted 7,600 jobs in 2006, as all six states in the region gained over the previous year. But the growth nowadays comes mainly from software and engineering services, as tech manufacturing jobs become harder to find. These were some of the major trends contained in Cyberstates 2008, a report released today by the American Electronics Association.

New England’s shift away from manufacturing is in line with the trend for the country as whole. Nationwide last year, seven out of nine tech manufacturing sectors lost jobs, according to the report (national figures were for 2007, but regional figures covered 2006). Defense electronics and electromedical equipment were the only manufacturing sectors that saw expansion.

Massachusetts had the largest high-tech sector in New England and the second highest concentration of high-tech employment in the nation. The state has a strong manufacturing base in measuring and control instruments, consumer electronics, and computers and peripherals. But even that wasn’t enough to stem the tide in the switch from manufacturing to services.

The computer and peripherals industry lost 1,600 manufacturing jobs in 2006, but these losses were more than offset by 3,100 new jobs in computer systems design and related services. Overall, the Bay State picked up 5,100 jobs, a 2.1 percent gain over 2005, by far and away the most in New England.

Here’s the state-by-state breakdown for New England:

 Total high-tech employmentNet change 2005 – 2006
New Hampshire38200700
Rhode Island19332400

Erik Mellgren is a Swedish journalist who worked for Xconomy Boston in 2008 as part of the Stanford Innovation Journalism Fellowship program. His real job is with Ny Teknik, a leading technology and innovation magazine in Sweden, but he loved seeing the Red Sox at Fenway. Follow @

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