Orlando ranks six among Forbes’ 15 Best Big Cities for Jobs in 2018. Forbes cited Orlando’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) job growth in recent years as one contributing factor, explaining “Orlando (is) actually now adding STEM jobs at a faster clip than the Bay Area metros”. So how much faster than the rest of the country is Orlando’s tech economy growing? And what is fueling this surge? A quick dive into occupation data reveals answers specific to Orlando’s STEM job growth since 2010.
Laser technician at Luminar's Orlando facility located in the University of Central Florida's research park.
The first thing to notice is Orlando’s rise in the rankings over the last seven years. Analyzing year-over-year growth rates for metros with more than one million jobs, Orlando went from being ranked 31st of 33 metros in 2010 to number one in 2017 (see the chart below). For the past two years Orlando topped cities such as Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Austin and San Jose in the growth of STEM occupations.
But is this really new information? Orlando has been the fastest growing metro for jobs over the last three years; it only makes sense that STEM jobs would be part of this growth. What is important to note, however, is that STEM growth from 2016 to 2017 outpaced overall employment growth by more than one percentage point (1.07%).
Comparing Orlando’s STEM job growth to the other fastest growing cities in the country, Austin, Riverside, Charlotte, and Atlanta, the proportional rise of STEM to non-STEM jobs in Orlando is significantly more. In fact, Atlanta is the only city where STEM growth is also outpacing total employment growth (by 0.19%). Austin, Riverside and Charlotte all have STEM growth rates less than total employment growth. Explore this relationship for all 33 metros with more than 1 million jobs in the dashboard below.
Since 2010 Orlando has added more than 11,000 jobs in the 89 occupations considered STEM fields, ranging from architects to actuaries to science and math instructors. More than half of these 11,000 jobs were added in nine occupations, seven of which are related to computer operations: Software Developers Applications, Computer User Support Specialists, Computer Systems Analysts, Software Developers Systems Software, Civil Engineers, Computer and Information Systems Managers, Network and Computer Systems Administrators, Computer Network Architects and Postsecondary Teachers. Except for civil engineers and postsecondary teachers, these top occupations are all related to computer operations and employees with these job titles are not tied directly to one industry.
Looking at two-year moving averages to gain a sense of STEM employment momentum, not only is Orlando STEM employment growing, but major metros like San Jose and San Francisco are decreasing in STEM employment growth.
As home prices and the cost of living rise in large tech hubs (think San Jose and San Francisco), new entrants to the job market or young families looking to own homes are expected to move to smaller, more affordable tech hubs. Forbes agrees with the Orlando Economic Partnership: Orlando is the place for tech talent to land.
“Central Florida could well emerge as a serious tech competitor over the next few years, helped by low taxes, affordable housing and a benign business climate.” – Forbes, Contributing Writer Joel Kotkin
Three factors suggest the trend of increased STEM employment in Orlando will continue:
- STEM employment permeates across industries.
- Orlando has seen employment grow across almost all sectors over the last year.
- The region is one of the top metros for in-migration from other parts of the country.
See the Orlando Economic Partnership’s Data Center for more information.
Photo credit: Luminar Technologies
 For this report, STEM vs. Non-STEM jobs were classified using the same definition as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program. EMSI’s 2018 Q2 data set was the primary source.