The Software Industry
Cost advantage for firms and employees while promoting creativity and collaboration
The software industry often defines transitional shifts in culture and industry segments. Portland is known for being a living laboratory and champion of experimentation and innovation, making Techlandia a natural home for the software industry.
As software functionality has broken free of traditional computing platforms, Portland area firms and entrepreneurs have capitalized. They are delivering products for mobile software and software-as-a-service (SaaS), and leading the evolution of open source, embedded software, and cloud computing.
Firms are small and nimble, averaging the industry average is less than nine employees per firm. This structure promotes a nimble, creative and solution-oriented business model. The openness of Portland culture and collaborative nature of the region makes it feasible for small firms to exist, and spurs them to thrive.
Wages in the Portland software industry offer a competitive advantage to both the worker and employer when compared to other technology hubs. Software wages are nearly twice as high as the regional average, providing workers with strong local purchasing power. At the same time the wage level is lower than the industry average in the US, giving employers a cost advantage compared to competitive regions.
The Computer & Electronics Industry
Lasting regional strength offering high wages and attracting and retaining highly skilled workers
The semiconductor and other related sectors have prospered since the 1980s. Major research and development along with headquarters operations are concentrated to the west of Portland proper. These centers bring highly skilled, highly technical workers to the region, and these workers are compensated by wages in excess of $100,000 a year. The strength of the region is projected to continue with employment growth forecasted over the next ten years, even while the industry contracts nationally. This is particularly promising given average wages in this industry in the Portland area exceed those in the US. Regarding the semiconductor industry, Portland workers earn on average $28,000 more than the national average.
Techlandia firms employ people with skill sets throughout the economy
Techlandia workers are nearly evenly divided between technical jobs and jobs with business and other support occupations. Many jobs in the industry require at least a bachelor’s degree, such as computer software engineers and computer systems analysts; however, there are professions–particularly those on the computer and electronics side of the industry–that require a high school degree and on-the-job training. The wages in these occupations are significantly below the wages paid to those in occupations requiring additional education, but most are above a family wage.
A shift to more high skilled jobs throughout the Portland and US economies is likely to continue during the next ten years. Jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or higher. The Techlandia community, too, may experience this trend as software jobs generally require post-secondary education and are expected to grow over this time period.
Not surprisingly, computer-related jobs are the largest occupation group in the industry. Greater Portland has a significantly higher concentration of workers relative to the entire US in a core occupation component – software developers. This occupation is also high paying with the average employee earning $100,000 annually. The next largest occupation groups include assemblers and production occupations, going to show Techlandia firms employ people with skill sets throughout the economy.
NOTE: This data is from national sources but also takes regional characteristics into account when creating estimates. EMSI, Portland MSA 4th Quarter 2011