As the demand for STEM workers grows, more cities are launching initiatives to train and attract employees for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)-related jobs, and to boost to local economies by nurturing and attracting companies that will hire these workers. And there are some interesting contenders.
WalletHub.com’s 2016 list of the best and worst cities for STEM workers is the result of analysis of a variety of metrics, from local engineering schools to quality of life.
WalletHub.com identified the McAllen, Texas area; Fort Myers, Fl.; and the Charlotte, North Carolina area, including nearby Concord and Gastonia, as the U.S. cities with the most STEM job growth.
The areas around Des Moines, Iowa; Dallas, Texas; and Syracuse, New York were found to have the “highest median wage growth for STEM workers.”
Detroit, including Dearborn and Warren, Michigan made both categories, as did San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, California, which isn’t surprising.
Ready to follow the money?
If you’re looking for a STEM job, Detroit might be a good option. There’s a need for STEM workers, and the area has a slew of initiatives from government, local nonprofits, and colleges aimed to at job training, particularly middle-skilled tier.
SmartAsset found that pay for STEM rose 3.8% in 2014. The expectation is that with demand outpacing the number of candidates, salaries will continue to increase.
The number of Des Moines STEM jobs is predicted to increase by 12% in the coming years, and will pay about 80 percent more than non-STEM position. The biggest problem for the region isn’t a lack of jobs, but the lack of candidates.
Companies that have recently raised funding include FunnelWise, which got $7 million from private investors. Workiva, in nearby Ames, which went public at the end of 2014, was recently named one of the best large workplaces by Fortune. The region has produced some notable tech founders, including investor Marc Andreessen and GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner.
McAllen is a little town that can. Right on the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s probably better known for the World Birding Center and the International Museum of Art and Science than for being a STEM hub. But it topped WalletHub’s highest STEM employment growth list. Texas A&M recently announced it would expand with a campus in McAllen, featuring 60,000 square feet of classroom and lab space.
Charlotte, Concord, and Gastonia
According to an analysis by Bloomberg, 6.8 percent of the local workforce are employed in STEM jobs. Most are computer and information system managers, and the median pay is $131, 500.
Duke Energy, which calls Charlotte home, recently announced a grant program through its Duke Energy Foundation that will fund STEM projects in schools. Other companies in the Charlotte area include $2.5 billion Curtiss-Wright, Swiss chemical company Clariant, and Bank of America. Life isn’t so rosy for start-ups, however, with access to investment money limited, according to a recent report. But there are incubators and other efforts to make the region more attractive to entrepreneurs and investors, and some investors are already moving in. Definitely a region to watch.
Want more insight on top tech areas? See 7 (And ½) Of The Hottest Digital Economy Office Markets.