Economic Perspective: What’s the High Tech Sector?

Economist Mike Walden


“Today’s program asks, ‘what’s the high tech sector?’ Mike, sometimes we hear terms that we generally know their meaning, but not exactly. High tech is a good example. High tech has become an important part of our economy, but what exactly does it mean?”


“Part of the problem is you won’t find a sector called high tech in all the government’s statistics, and so what is commonly done is to define high tech by occupation. Usually using the STEM occupation, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, as high tech occupations, and then what we economists do is we go and find those industries where a lot of people with STEM backgrounds work. Then we use those industries to really define the high tech complex.”

“So if you do this, we find we have a lot of high tech work going on in pharmaceuticals, machinery manufacturing, computer parts, aerospace manufacturing, software publishing and data processing et cetera. That really defines our complex of high tech industry, and if we break this down to say, ‘how many jobs are considered high tech,’ right now it’s about twelve percent of all jobs. However, those twelve percent of all jobs produce twenty-three percent of all economic output.”

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