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Brookings: Greater Houston Ranks Ninth In US For Employment In Advanced Industries

The study finds that industries heavy on STEM jobs and R&D spending employ nearly 13 percent of the region’s workforce.



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A new report by the Brookings Institution ranks Houston ninth among the nation’s leading metro areas in terms of employment in “advanced industries” as a percentage of population. Such industries account for 12.8 percent of all jobs in the Houston region, most in fields tied to the energy sector.

Scott Andes, a senior policy analyst for Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, says the study came about, in part, as an effort to come up with a more comprehensive definition of industries that rely on advanced technologies.

“The reality is that when we look at traditional groupings like manufacturing or services or high-tech, we’re not capturing what we really want to capture, which is, ‘Where are the industries that are producing the most high-quality jobs and ensuring the United States is competitive?’ And this is what those industries look like,” Andes says.

The report defines advanced industries as those that spend at least $450 per worker per year on research and development. In addition, at least a fifth of the workforce must be employed in so-called STEM jobs — those with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Fifty separate industry sectors made Brookings’ cut, ranging from aerospace to wireless telecommunications. For Houston, architecture and engineering topped the list of employers, with more than 69,000 workers as of 2013, the most recent year of the study. That beat out oil and gas extraction by more than 10,000.

Houston’s number 9 showing puts it just behind Boston and just ahead of San Diego. Topping the list is Silicon Valley.


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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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