More people and more mouths to feed may mean more Big Macs to sell, but the creation and cultivation of high-paying, high-quality jobs requires a multifaceted investment in human capital.
And that, indeed, is why the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Milken Institute has been tracking and evaluating states’ science and technology infrastructure for over a decade now.
While many economists have criticized the recent surge in jobs as nothing to brag about, since they’re often low-paying, part-time jobs, no one disputes that jobs in science and technology command above-average salaries.
In its newly updated research on the states’ sci-tech infrastructure, the Milken Institute — a Santa Monica, California-based economic think tank primarily concerned with job creation, competitiveness and capital access — arrived at some interesting insights.
Foremost among them is the extraordinary staying power of states that have already made the long-term costly investments in research and development; risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure; human capital development; technology and science work force; and technology concentration and dynamism.
Those five broad benchmarks — and the 78 specific inputs they encompass and which the Milken Report uses as comparative criteria — reveal the lasting advantages of a state’s science and tech competitive advantages.
That is because the current top 10 states remain unchanged from the previous survey two years ago, and indeed from the one preceding that four years ago. Indeed, even their relative rankings have been little shuffled, with the top four states from 2012 maintaining their same rank this year.
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“The main reason the top states have managed to stay on top is that each of them has managed to assemble the different components needed to build and maintain a high-tech economy,” Kevin Klowden, one of the report’s authors, tells ThinkAdvisor.
Nevertheless, the rankings do show mobility. North Carolina, for example, showed the greatest movement, climbing from No. 21 in 2012 to No. 15 this year, largely on the basis of its improvement in the area of risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure. Rhode Island, improving in the same category, is now eyeing the top 10 sphere from its No. 13 perch — another significant climb from its previous No. 17 rank.
Some modest slippage in the bottom ranks of the Top 10 states in the past two years may signal room for those two or other states to enter the highest echelon.
Herewith, the states currently leading our innovation nation, or as the Milken Report puts it, in terms job-seekers should understand:
“How a state fares in the index does not directly correlate to current economic performance and overall job creation, but it does clearly indicate whether or not the state is likely to create high-paying and future-proofed positions.”
No. 10 (No. 8 in 2012)
Delaware’s high performance in research and development (where it ranks No. 6) helped keep the state in the Top 10, though its rank slipped in three of the other five key categories. An interesting fact about Delaware that underscores its R&D strength is the strong concentration of physical and life scientists in the state, which is known for its large chemical industry. Indeed, the University of Delaware’s efforts to facilitate commercialization of innovation is a big contributing factor to the state’s high ranking.
No. 9 (No. 9 in 2012)
Human capital investment remains Connecticut’s historic strength, and its No. 3 rank in that category, helped the state maintain its No. 9 ranking despite stiff competition. Indeed, the top 4 states all increased their scores in this area without changing rank. The report describes Connecticut’s formidable achievements in human capital thusly:
“Connecticut ranked second in the number of science, engineering and health post-doctorates awarded, as it did in 2012, and second in ACT scores. Connecticut also placed in the Top 10 on bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. attainment.”
No. 8 (No. 10 in 2012)
New Hampshire’s status as a science and technology state is more secure this year, having climbed from No. 10 to No. 8. Key to that improvement was its rapid ascent in research and development (where it shot up from 11th to fourth) and technology and science workforce (where it climbed from 18th to 13th).
The report credits the state’s new Governor Maggie Hassan, who “has worked to double and permanently extend the state’s R&D tax credit — which had been in place since 2007 — thus creating more incentives and stability for research and development.” The state’s new Innovation Commercialization Center is also a factor contributing to the state’s progress.
No. 7 (No. 6 in 2012)
The top performer in computer science and information science intensity—one of the key inputs in the technology and science workforce criteria—Virginia’s place as a high-tech cluster is also evidenced in its No. 1 rank in net formation of high-tech establishments, another input in the workforce category. The state saw a whopping 29 new high-tech firms for every new 10,000 business establishments.
While its work force is strong, it slipped, but only slightly, in three of the five key categories of R&D, risk capital and entrepreneurship and human capital investment.
No. 6 (No. 5 in 2012)