Technology, Innovation, and Growth in Colorado

Workforce Indicators

Math Achievement in Colorado Public Schools
Colorado Graduates
Science and Engineering Indicators

In a 1999 survey of the Colorado high-technology industry, 410 responding firms reported that almost 34% of current workers were classified as production workers, while slightly more than 25% were engineers, 4% were scientists and 4% were information technology employees.

Survey results paralleled the analysis of Colorado ES202 data that indicated better than average growth in technology companies over the past five years.

Many survey respondents reported extreme difficulty in hiring technicians and engineers. Almost 45% indicated that it was extremely difficult to hire or afford technicians, while nearly 38% expressed the same difficulties in hiring engineers.

The median total annual wages paid per company was close to $560,000, and the average annual wages per person were $52,111.

Colorado's ability to produce and attract science and technology workers will be key to sustaining technology-based economic growth in the future. The availability of an educated workforce, at all levels, is critical to the growth of technology-based companies and is a major factor in location decisions. Furthermore, it is key to supporting growth of companies already based in the state and can be a major consideration in whether companies choose to stay in, or move into, Colorado.

Mathematics Achievement in Colorado Public Schools

The percentage of Colorado fourth and eighth graders achieving math proficiency levels is closely equivalent to that of the nation. In 1996, 67% of Colorado fourth graders performed at basic math levels or above. Twenty-two percent tested as proficient or above, while only 2% were in the "advanced" category.


Source: U.S. Department of Education from Educational Testing Service 1996,
Report Card for the Nation and the States, February 1998.

Eighth grade math scores were also equivalent to those in the nation as a whole and indicated little change from fourth grade performance. A total of 33% of eighth graders were still below basic, and 67% were at the basic level or above. Of these 25% attained proficient or above scores and 3% were advanced. 

Source: U.S. Department of Education from Educational Testing Service 1996, Report Card for the nation and the States, February 1998


Colorado Graduates

In 1995-96, Colorado public high schools graduated 32,608 individuals. In 1996, Colorado ranked eighth among states in college enrollment as a percentage of total population (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Fall Enrollment" survey, January 1998).

In 1995, Colorado ranked 26th among the states in higher education current fund expenditures, showing only a slight improvement from 1993 when it ranked 27th.

In 1994-95, Colorado institutions of higher education awarded 35,645 degrees in all categories. Public institutions awarded 75%, while private institutions awarded about 25% of total degrees. This represented 6,984 associate degrees, 19,929 bachelor's, 833 first professional, 7,111 master's and 788 doctoral degrees. A total of 10.6% of bachelor's degrees and 16.7% of master's degrees were in computer science and engineering.

Source: U.S. Department of Education National Center for Educational Statistics,
April 1997


Bachelor's degrees represented 55.9% of total degrees awarded by Colorado institutions of higher education in 1994-95. Master's degrees were 19.9% of the total, while associate degrees were 19.6%. These distributions were very close to national percentages, with a slightly higher percentage of bachelor's, masters and doctorate degrees, and fewer associate degrees.

In the five-year period, 1990 to 1995, the ability of Colorado institutions of higher education to produce bachelor's and master's degree graduates increased slightly, while the number of doctorate degrees remained static.



Science and Engineering Indicators

Colorado Science and Engineering

The American Electronics Association's "Cyberstates 3.0" report, released in June 1999, indicates that Colorado has the second highest concentration of high-tech workers in the country, with 80 high-tech workers per 1,000 private sector workers. According to the report, Colorado ranked 12th among states in high-tech employment, with 131,900 high-tech workers in 1997. Between 1996 and 1997, the state added more than 9,000 new high-tech jobs, making it the sixth ranked state in terms of job creation ("Cyberstates 3.0," American Electronics Association, June 1999). 

Wages in the technology sector are also among the highest in the United States, with average wages in Colorado at $54,500, the 10th highest in the country, and 83% more than the state's average private sector wage. Total high-tech payroll is estimated at $7.2 billion in 1997 (Cyberstates 3.0).

By industry segments, Colorado is fifth in photonics manufacturing employment, with 3,300 jobs; seventh in computers and office equipment manufacturing employment, with 17,900 jobs; and eighth in software service, with 26,400 jobs (Cyberstates 3.0).

According to 1995 statistics, the state's labor force includes 9,261 doctoral scientists and 1,945 doctoral engineers. In 1996 Colorado awarded 545 science and engineering doctoral degrees, ranking 17th among states (Colorado Science and Engineering Profile, National Science Foundation).

The Colorado Department of Labor projects demand for systems analysts with a bachelor's degree or higher to grow 11% a year between 1995 and 2005, to fill a projected 18,854 jobs. Openings for computer engineers will show about the same growth, reaching employment of 14,380 by 2005. Other jobs in computer scientist fields will increase 13.1% per year, reaching 2,588 positions in 2005.

National Science and Engineering

Science and engineering jobs in the United States numbered slightly more than 3 million in 1996 and are projected to increase to 4.4 million by 2006, an increase of 1.36 million jobs. In 1995 S&E graduates received 41,610 doctoral degrees and 1,174,436 bachelor's degrees (S&E Indicators, Tables 2-20, 2-30 and 3-16).

Nationally, demand for scientists and engineers is predicted to increase dramatically in the future. The "computer and office equipment industry is projected to be the fastest growing industry in the nation between 1996 and 2006, at an annual growth rate of nearly 15%. The software and data processing services industry is projected to grow at a 9.3% annually and employment is expected to double from 1.2 million in 1996 to 2.5 million in 2006 (Cyberstates).

Demand for database administrators, computer support specialists and computer scientists is expected to increase 118% between 1996 and 2006, computer engineers jobs will increase 109%, and jobs for system analysts will double (Cyberstates).

There is concern in the high-tech industry as a whole about the ability of U.S. higher education to produce the educated workforce required in the future.

The following chart tracks the national decline in engineering degrees. In addition, the American Electronics Association cites data from a variety of sources showing that between 1985 and 1995, degrees in mathematical and computer science decreased 29%; in electrical, electronics and communications engineering 37%; and in computer and information sciences 42% (Cyberstates).



Source: Science & Engineering Indicators - 1998, Table 2-13