So you’re a millennial with a hot new degree in computer science. Common wisdom suggests you’d head to Silicon Valley or New York. Think again.
A new report from the Brookings Institution in Washington says Dixie is where it’s at. Job growth for graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is rising much faster in metro areas in the Deep South than say San Francisco or Seattle, the high-tech meccas along the West Coast.
A surprising number of high-skill jobs, from computer systems designers to auto-parts makers, are popping up in Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, and Memphis, Elvis Presley’s home town. Metro centers across southern U.S. states have hustled to attract this kind of business, be it subsidies to lure outside talent or giving local graduates a reason to stay.
Mark Muro, one of the co-authors of the study, said these opportunities in what he dubs "advanced industries" are more geographically spread out than people think. Seven of the top eight cities showing the most growth in high-tech employment came from southern states such as Tennessee and Mississippi.
But before we get too excited, there is a caveat to all of this. Dixie still has a long way to go before catching up to rivals. It’s starting from a low base. Around 40 percent of coveted STEM jobs are still clustered around the usual suspects -- San Francisco, Washington, New York, San Jose, Boston and Los Angeles.
Still, in a heated election campaign where wage stagnation has been cited as a major source of voter discontent, the prospect of more work in higher-paying jobs offers a silver lining. The challenge, according to Muro, is to ensure that it’s not just a one percent reaping the rewards.