RALEIGH – NC TECH has released a new index that tracks how competitive North Carolina’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) compared to 110 regions across the country, two Triangle metropolitan statistical areas appear in the top 10.
Durham-Chapel Hill ranks 6th overall and Raleigh-Cary ranks 7th, according to the index’s rankings.
The top five metropolitan statistical areas in the new index are Seattle, San Jose, Austin, Boston, and San Francisco.
Charlotte ranked in the top 30 nationally, finishing 27th.
The new project, called the Tech Innovation Index, is designed to compare 110 metro areas annually, and used to assess North Carolina’s competitive position, said Brooks Raiford, CEO of NC TECH during an event on Thursday.
“What we wanted to do was to provide the initial benchmark,” said Ted Abernathy, managing partner of Economic Leadership, which NC TECH employed to design the index.
“Data has three things you can do with it, measure it against other people, measure it against time, or you can measure against goals,” said Abernathy during the Thursday event. “Over time will be one of the more interesting things.”
But the report does enable a comparison, right now, between 110 metropolitan statistical areas across the United States, including all 10 MSAs in North Carolina.
The Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan statistical area ranked 6th in the nation despite ranking 91st among the 110 metros studied in terms of total population. That’s due to the region’s high marks in innovation, for which the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA ranked third nationally in the sub-index, as well as other indicators like job postings, tech worker location, STEM degrees, and H1-B visa approvals.
Raleigh-Cary also performed well in the innovation sub-index, which accounted for 20% of the total ranking score for each region studied, and the region ranked second overall behind Austin, Texas. Raleigh ranked highly for other indicators, including the number of professional profiles with listed technology skills, the number of computer, math, or analytics degrees, the number of resident technology workers, and STEM education in the region. Raleigh has the 42nd largest population of the regions studied in the index, and finished 7th overall.
The overall rankings are based on three sub-indexes, which are weighted differently, in order to determine a total ranking score based on 21 individual indicators that can be tracked annually, said Abernathy.
The combined indicators that make up the sub-index tracking technology talent supply is weighted at 45%, whereas the technology talent demand sub-index is weighted at 35%. Innovation indicators together are weighted at 20% of the overall score.
“This isn’t a comparison of North Carolina information, but rather a comparison of how North Carolina is doing compared to other places,” said Abernathy, explaining how each MSA ranked in the sub-indexes tracked by the study.
In the technology talent supply sub-index, Raleigh-Cary ranked 8th and Durham-Chapel Hill ranked 11th. Part of the reason why is the high number of people in each MSA that have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, with 461.8 people per 1,000 adults in the Raleigh MSA having earned a degree, and 452.9 people per 1,000 adults in the Durham MSA having earned such a credential.
In the technology talent demand sub-index, Durham-Chapel Hill ranked 9th, Charlotte ranked 16th, and Raleigh ranked 17th. Austin, Texas, ranked 2nd in this category, and the Austin MSA also ranked first in the innovation sub-index, with Raleigh ranked 2nd and Durham-Chapel Hill ranked 3rd.
Technology job openings in North Carolina at an all-time high as demand for technology talent outpaces growing supply of technology roles in the state, according to the latest IT Job Report from NC TECH.
“We expect the employment growth to continue,” said Abernathy, noting the strength of the state’s technology sector. “North Carolina is projected to be one of the top five states for technology sector growth.”
Abernathy noted that many who studied economic trends began to compare Austin, Texas, to the two Triangle-area MSAs, around the turn of the millennium.
“We looked at Austin closely, all the time,” said Abernathy, noting that the comparisons between the regions began about 20 years ago when, statistically, the combined MSAs of Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill were very similar to the Austin MSA.
Since, said Abernathy, Austin has grown faster, and this growth is accelerating at a faster rate than the Triangle.
“We would have to admit that they’ve accelerated at a faster rate,” said Abernathy. “But I’m not sure the quality of that growth is any better.”