Tech Jobs: State of the Union

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- President Obama stressed the importance of investing in technology and education in Tuesday's State of the Union address, stating that the nation's ability to compete globally depends on innovation.

Companies like Google ( GOOG) and Facebook are models of American success, Obama said, emphasizing the key role that technology will take towards creating new jobs in the country.
President Obama delivers his the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

During the recession, the tech industry emerged as a bright spot, showing 15% growth in jobs during 2010, compared with 11% job growth overall, according to Moody Analytics.

Unemployment in the tech sector has also remained lower than the national average.

While the national unemployment rate hasn't dipped below 9% for the last year and a half, unemployment among tech professionals is around 5.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These rates may be even lower, say some research analysts, as government numbers rely on an outdated definition of professions that comprise the tech sector.

Job cuts in the tech sector in 2010 also fell 73% year-over-year, compared to a 59% decline in overall job cuts across all industries, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"Tech is strategically important to employers because these workers have skills that are difficult to find," said Tom Silver, senior vice president at Dice, a career website for technology and engineering. "Tech workers help companies improve infrastructure, save money and make their operations more efficient."

But despite these gains, the U.S. tech industry still faces challenges, including outsourcing, immigration caps that make it difficult for highly skilled foreign workers to get work visas, and reduced funding and research and development incentives, as a result of the economic crisis.

Some states attempt to buck this trend by promoting tech and science at a regional level.

"When you look at growing the tech sector you need a strong federal platform, but in the end, all economic development is local," said, Ross DeVol, executive director of economic research at the Milken Institute, a think tank in Santa Monica, Calif. "Regional clusters around universities, research centers, labs, corporate park investment centers -- these are the centers of innovation."

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