Blog Economic Development

NYC vs. San Jose: Engineers and Our Metro Peers

December 18, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is poised to announce which university has been selected to develop an applied science and engineering campus in New York City.   The City of New York will provide land and infrastructure investments worth up to $100 million to the winner.  Time will tell whether the campus will serve as the catalyst for transforming the New York metropolitan area into the next Silicon Valley; in the short term, the campus will likely modestly increase engineering talent in a city that lags other large cities across the country.

New data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau shows how far the New York metro area lags behinds its peers.  As part of an effort to provide up to date social and economic data, much of the information originally collected and released as part of the decennial Census is now routinely released as part of the American Community Survey (ACS).  According to the 2008-2010 ACS, there were approximately 129,000 engineers in the New York City metropolitan area;  while this is a sizeable pool of talent, there are more engineers in the Los Angeles metro area, despite the fact that the population in LA metro is only two-thirds that of NYC metro. 

More telling is the low share that engineers represent in the total population.  NYC metro ranks almost last among large metro areas, with .7 percent of its population citing an occupation as an engineer, compared to 3.1 percent in first place San Jose metro, the center of Silicon Valley.  NYC metro would need at least 450,000 more engineers to surpass San Jose metro’s share.

One more thing to note.  Engineering is one of the only highly-skilled occupations in which NYC metro lost people in the 2008-2010 period.  An applied science and engineering campus would be a positive first step in reversing this trend.

By Maria Doulis