May 27, 2014

The Cities Winning the Battle for Information Jobs 2014

Excerpted from Forbes Magazine

By Joel Kotkin

In the town of Verona on the rural fringes of Madison, Wisc., there’s a Google-like campus that houses one of the country’s most rapidly growing tech companies, and one of the least well known. Founded in 1979, the medical software maker Epic has grown to employ 6,800 people, most of whom work at its 5.5 million-square-foot headquarters complex, which sprawls over 800 acres of what was farmland until the early 1990s.

Despite annual revenue estimated at $1.5 billion, the company is congenitally publicity shy, a characteristic associated with its founder and CEO, Judy Faulkner. Yet in its quiet, unassuming way, Epic is emblematic of the expansion of the information industry in the Madison area. Employment in the metropolitan area’s information sector is up 28% since 2008, among the fastest growth in the country over that period. This has occurred despite the city’s reputation for left-wing, often anti-business politics—a culture that its left-leaning mayor (and Epic booster), Paul Soglin, describes as “76 square miles surrounded by reality.”

To come up with our list of the cities with the fastest-growing information sectors, we zeroed in on the 55 metropolitan statistical areas that have at least 10,000 information jobs, which includes software, publishing, broadcasting and telecommunications services. We used the same methodology as for our overall ranking of the Best Cities for Jobs: we ranked the MSAs based on job growth in the sector over the long-term (2002-13), mid-term (2008-13) and the last two years, as well as recent momentum.

Our top 10 is dominated by large metro areas renowned as tech hubs – Madison, at No. 5,  is the smallest by far. In first place is Silicon Valley — San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara — followed by San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, which together employ over 110,000 information workers. Both have been primary winners in the latest high-tech bubble. Since 2008 information employment is up 23% in San Jose and 27% in San Francisco.

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