The authors analyse high-tech employment and wage trends in the European Union (EU-27) between 2000 and 2011.1 Using a broad industry-occupation framework, we define high-tech workers as those employed in a high-tech industry or a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupation. This comprehensive analysis of the high-tech workforce highlights the important role high-tech workers play in job creation, income generation, and economic growth.
Among the major findings:
• In 2011, the 22 million high-tech workers employed in the EU-27 represented 10 percent of total employment. At 13.7 percent of total employment, Czech Republic had the highest concentration. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, France, and eight additional countries had high-tech employment shares above 10 percent of total employment.
• At 21.9 percent, Germany contributed the most to overall EU-27 high-tech employment. Germany, along with France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, collectively accounted for 60 percent of total high-tech employment in the EU-27 in 2011.
• High-tech employment grew 20 percent in the EU-27 between 2000-2011, as total employment increased by 8 percent. Each EU-27 country saw high-tech employment increase, and 22 of those had high-tech employment growth outpace total employment growth during the same period.2
• High-tech employment growth spread throughout Europe in the decade–on average, increasing the most in countries and regions with lower levels of high-tech employment concentration. This suggests that countries and regions that had been previously less established in high-tech are catching-up and playing an increasingly important role.
• High-tech workers experience more favourable labour market outcomes than workers as a whole, as evidenced by lower unemployment rates, the existence of a substantial wage premium, and stronger wage growth.3 These factors reflect both the relatively high demand for these workers and the economic value they create.
o The high-tech unemployment rate has consistently been below 4 percent and was lower than for total unemployment for each EU-27 country in 2010.
o High-tech workers earn much higher wages than workers in other sectors. Even after controlling for factors outside of industry or occupation that affect wages, high-tech workers earn 19 percent more than comparable workers.
o Wage growth has been stronger for high-tech workers than for total workers in 20 of the 26 countries where the data are available for this calculation.
• Beyond the direct impact that high-tech workers have on productivity in technology-adopting sectors throughout the economy, the high-tech sector itself is also an important contributor to income generation and economic development. We estimate that the creation of one high-tech job in a local economy creates more than four additional non-high tech jobs in the same region. This includes workers across the skill spectrum—such as lawyers, physicians, waiters, taxi drivers, schoolteachers, managers, and technologists.