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July 1991, Vol. 114, No. 7
Another look at high tech employment
Paul Hadlock, Daniel Hecker and Joseph Gannon
Employment opportunities in high technology industries have been a source of interest among economists for many years. However, notions of what makes an industry high technology vary widely, making analyses of industry and occupational changes difficult. This article presents one method by which high technology industries can be identified and discusses employment in these industries.
One often-used definition of high technology limits the term to the aerospace, computer, and telecommunications industries. This is perhaps the most popular use of the locution. Another definition describes high technology industries as those "that are engaged in the design, development, and introduction of new products and or innovative manufacturing processes through the systematic application of scientific and technical knowledge."1 Still another uses research and development (R&D) expenditures as a percentage of industry value added and industry employment of scientists, engineers, and technicians as a proportion of the industry work force.2 In 1983, BLS analysts introduced three measures of high tech employment-utilization of technology-oriented workers, expenditures for R&D, and utilization of technology-oriented workers and R&D expenditures combined.3 The following analysis, by contrast, presents a definition of "high technology" based on an industry's percentage of R&D employment, which is defined as the number of workers who spend the majority of their time in R&D, as determined by their employer. Hence, we define a high technology industry as one with a significant concentration of R&D employment.
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1991 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 From Technology, Innovation, and Regional Economic Development (Washington, U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Sept. 9, 1982), a 14-page report that assesses the implications of high technology in order to promote the development of high tech industries in States and other areas.
2 Michael Boretsky, "Concerns About the Present American Position in International Trade," Technology and International Trade (Washington, National Academy Of Sciences, 1971).
3 Richard W. Riche, Daniel E. Hecker, and John U. Burgan, "High technology today and tomorrow: a small slice of the employment pie," Monthly Labor Review, November 1983, pp. 50-58.
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