But while the region has gained some tech jobs in the last year, the increase was small — about 410 jobs in the sector, which makes up for more than 100,000 regional employees and nearly 4% of its workforce, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia found in a recent report.
Tech jobs cross industries — there are technologists in healthcare, in banks, in nonprofits, etc. — and between 2019 and 2020, there were a net increase of about 22,500 tech jobs across the 15 largest U.S. metropolitan areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report found.
Philadelphia was among the nine metro areas to see an increase in tech jobs, and they were only second to “healthcare practitioners and technical occupations” during the early months of the pandemic last year.
While it’s promising that tech jobs remain steady, there also wasn’t significant growth for the region. Of all the cities that did gain tech jobs last year, Philly was at the bottom of the list, said Mike Shields, an Economy League project manager.
“To me, it’s not that surprising. It’s the same Philadelphia story, the same across many other industries,” he told Technical.ly. “We have slower job creation. We’re growing, but it is slower.” (A summer 2020 CBRE report noted the same trend.)
And where much of Philadelphia’s job creation has come from in recent years is in some lower-paying and less career-growing jobs, Shields said, like retail and food service work.
Amid the pandemic, though, “computer and mathematical occupations” grew the most for job listings, second only to healthcare, per data from Philadelphia Works shared in the report. It’s a acknowledgement that tech and tech-enabled jobs offer a sense of resiliency and stability, even in “uncertain times.”
“That was the most telling, that we as a country are moving toward a tech industry,” Shields said of the numbers — “that investing in tech is a smart move for any metro area, and if if you’re playing the long game it’s a good investment.”
But what Philadelphia and these other growing metro areas need to center is the importance of diversity in tech, Shields added. The data still points to the industry being largely white and male, which limits marketability and insight, he said.
“With a diversity of expertise and perspectives, Greater Philadelphia’s tech industry can continue to grow and better compete with other major metropolitan areas,” the report concluded.