Raleigh Rides R&D Trolley

Among the fastest growing cities in the nation, Raleigh, North Carolina, was named by Fortune magazine as the sixth best U.S. city for business in November 1998.

The city’s population increased 30.1 percent from 1990 to 1999, or an average of 3.34 percent annually. Raleigh is proud that new workers are arriving en masse from places such as New York and California, bringing their own cultures to blend with many of the area’s southern traditions.

A Technology Triangle

A major draw for such workers is Research Triangle Park (RTP), a 7,000-acre area between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, employing 43,000 research employees for 137 different companies. Furthermore, the Research Triangle Foundation expects that figure to rise to 100,000 when the park is fully developed.

The bulk of the companies in the park are in IT industries and telecommunications. Almost 28,000 people work for firms like Cisco Systems, Ericsson and Nortel Network. Pharmaceutical companies, including Glaxo Wellcome, account for another 5,300. Biotechnology and environmental sciences are important sectors in the area as well.

The Foundation says that many of the companies in the RTP that are focused on Research and Development (R&D) situate almost half of their R&D facilities in Raleigh. As of June 2000, the area’s 1.3 percent unemployment rate has created no employment challenges, since firms successfully recruit from local universities, such as North Carolina State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

In Raleigh itself, the main employers are the State of North Carolina, with 24,000 employees, and Wake County public school system, with 9,500. The Raleigh Chamber of Commerce observes this makes the area “recession-proof.” That is, should the high-tech boom collapse, stable employers like government and education should face no adverse effects.

A Home for “Knowledge Workers”

Not surprisingly, job creation in the area has led to a building boom. And while housing prices have gone up accordingly, the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce reports they are still lower than many of the places from where the workers have come. The Chamber also noted that many of them are “knowledge workers” whose higher-than-average incomes allow them to manage higher-than-average asking prices.

Average salaries for white-collar jobs in Research Triangle Park

Position – Weighted Average Salary(Monthly) – Average Entry Rate(Monthly)

Accountant – $3,443 – $2,795
Chemist – 3,285 – 3,162
Industrial Engineering Manager – 5,602 – 4,647
LAN Administrator – 4,406 – 3,318
Office Manager – 2,865 – 2,461
Plant Manager – 7,753 – 6,164
Product Development Engineer – 6,005 – 4,113
Project Engineer – 5,176 – 4,038
Research Scientist – 4,491 – 3,637
Systems Analyst – 4,788 – 3,538
Customer Service Supervisor – 3,607 – 3,204

Source: The CAI 1999 North Carolina Wage and Salary Survey

Vacancy rates for office (1st Quarter 2000)

Downtown: 5.54 percent
RTP/I-40 Corridor: 6.53 percent
Triangle-wide: 6.94 percent

Estimated average lease rates for Class A office space

Downtown: $17.50 per square foot (range: $16.50 – $21.00)
RTP/I-40 Corridor: $18.50 per square foot (range: $15.00 – $21.50)
Triangle-wide: N/A (estimated $18.50)

Source: Space Magazine and The Business Journal – April 28, 2000

Family life and activities revolve around the city’s numerous parks, as well as the sports teams from area universities. There’s been a recent surge in nightclub, bar and restaurant openings in areas such as the City Market downtown, Power Square, the Warehouse district and Hillsborough Street, across from the NC State campus. And according to the Chamber, Raleigh is becoming the “Smithsonian of the South,” thanks to its many museums, including the new Museum of Natural Sciences.

With its moderate temperature, rolling terrain and close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it is no wonder that in 1998, Outlook magazine ranked Raleigh the second choice city in the United States in which to live and do business. Perhaps you will find it No. 1.

Viva Salt Lake City

The glittering, saline-laden lake in northwest Utah may be dead in ecological terms, but its namesake city remains vibrantly alive.

Salt Lake City’s more than 173,000 people powered the state’s feverish growth during the so-called “roaring ’90s.” Indeed, the years from 1993 to 1998 saw unprecedented rates of job creation, low unemployment and net migration into the state. Although subsequent growth slowed somewhat, Salt Lake City and its environs offer excellent job opportunities in diverse industries, notably high-tech and business services.

Consider these salient statistics:

  • Utah’s job creation rate, which a few years ago outstripped the national average, remains a solid 2.5 percent, and projections continue at that level.
  • The Utah economy as a whole generated 26,000 new jobs between 1998 and 1999. It is not surprising that half of those were in Salt Lake County, given that 1.5 of Utah’s 2 million residents live an hour’s drive from downtown Salt Lake City.
  • Salt Lake City’s unemployment rate stayed below 4 percent for nearly eight years. In May 2000, unemployment fell to a low 2.7 percent, compared with a national rate of 4.1 percent during the same month.

Fertile Ground for High Tech

In Salt Lake City, as elsewhere, the high-tech explosion kindles employment growth. In addition to a bevy of smaller software and e-commerce firms, more than 41,000 workers in the city and around the state find jobs with such employers as:

  • Gateway
  • Novell
  • Iomega
  • Fairchild Semiconductors
  • 3Com

At an average salary of $43,500, these employees earned considerably more than the Salt Lake region’s average per capita income of $24,300.

Statewide, IT jobs increased 35 percent between 1993 and 1998, according to the American Electronics Association. Salt Lake County added 1,400 computer-related service jobs in 1999, 21 percent of total service sector growth. The demand for computer science and engineering graduates currently outpaces supply, a gap that Utah’s universities are just beginning to address.

High-tech ferment requires venture capital. Yet high-tech firms across Utah attracted only $93 million in funding in 1999, far less than the billions invested in Silicon Valley and the Northeast United States.

Other Standouts: Business Services, Health and Movies?

  • Business services, as well as telemarketing, engineering and management-related jobs are major forces in Salt Lake City’s labor market and continue to expand faster than overall services (currently growing at around four percent).
  • Health care, the single largest service sector, projects rapid growth in job opportunities.
  • Financial services, accounting for seven percent of Salt Lake City jobs, expects slow growth due to downsizing and merger layoffs.
  • Motion picture and video production industries, a small but burgeoning boost to Salt Lake City, contributed 900 jobs to Salt Lake County’s economy in 1999.

While the Hollywood set may not soon flock to Salt Lake City, plenty of other workers are being lured by the area’s strong job prospects and considerable natural beauty. And as Salt Lake City takes center stage during the 2002 Winter Olympics, the city that sprang from a dead lake promises to flourish even more.

Statistics and trend information referenced in the above article were extracted from the following key sources:

  • Salt Lake City’s Official Web site
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

San Antonio – Old West Charm and New World Economy

Old West charm and a New World economy pair up in San Antonio to produce one of the most attractive job markets in the country.

In May, Forbes magazine placed San Antonio eighth among the 200 best places to do business, based on technology company revenues, salary increases and job growth between 1993 and 1999. Bolstering this ranking has been the city’s economic growth spurt over the past several years, particularly in such industries as:

  • Transportation equipment
  • Metal fabricating
  • Business services
  • Banking
  • Communication services

A Charmed Economy

But first, consider San Antonio’s charms. Easily navigated by streetcar, bus or horse-drawn carriage, the city is dotted with historical districts, from the elegant 1800s-era homes of the King William District, to the galleries, shops and artisan studios of LaVillita. Market Square, two blocks of shops and restaurants, is rich in Hispanic culture. The San Antonio River weaves its way through the heart of the city, and along its banks runs the famous 2.5-mile, cobblestone Riverwalk trail, also called Paseo del Rio.

Equally appealing are the economic prospects for Texas’ third largest city:

  • Kelly Air Force Base: The base has undergone commercial redevelopment and is already home to:
    • Boeing
    • Pratt and Whitney
    • General Electric
    • Lockheed Martin
  • Computer securities industry: In June, the Wall Street Journal reported this industry is growing, as represented by the presence of such companies as:
    • SecureInfo
    • Digital Defense, Inc.
    • Sevis Systems, Inc.
    • SecureLogix
  • High-tech community outside of security field: This community is growing, with companies like:
    • billserv.com and its sister company, bills.com
    • Rackspace
    • ILEX Oncology

According to a recent Express-News report, the city is poised for an influx of Internet startups and publicly traded dot-coms, all of which will create a need for high-tech managers.

San Antonio’s Major Industries (first quarter 1999 averages)

Industry – Number of Firms – Number of Employees

Services – 11,875 – 200,952
Retail Trade – 4,706 – 136,505
Manufacturing – 1,349 – 54,539
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate – 2,544 – 46,270
Construction – 2,785 – 36,362
Transportation, Utilities – 1,101 – 32,252
Wholesale Trade – 2,164 – 30,345

Source: Texas Workforce Commission

The year 2000 has already produced economic headlines regarding the San Antonio area:

  • Financial services giant Chase Manhattan plans to open a customer service operation that will spell jobs for up to 850 people (as reported by the San Antonio Express-News).
  • In April, Qwest Communications announced expansion plans that include hiring up to 1,000 additional workers.
  • Swiss manufacturer Mikron Technology Holdings plans a $15 million cellular phone production plant that will employ 400.

Wages for 1998 in the Alamo (San Antonio) Workplace Development Area

Occupation – Hourly Wage

Accountants, auditors – $17.80
Civil engineers – $24.29
Computer programmers – $23.37
Electronic pagination system operators – $12.87
Financial managers – $26.79
Lawyers – $36.93
Paralegal personnel – $16.13
Pharmacists – $28.54
Physical therapists – $28.14
Registered nurses – $18.73
Sales agents, securities, commodities, financial personnel – $21.48
Systems analysts, electronic data processing personnel – $25.90

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Southwest Charm at a Discount Price

If San Antonio’s job scene is attractive, so is the prospect of buying a house in the city. The average cost of a single-family home in 1999 was $114,769. In fact, the influx of some 1,100 new management-level employees at SBC Communications detonated a homebuilding boom.

But a hiring spurt is not the only thing drawing professionals to San Antonio these days. In addition to a solid employment picture, job seekers will experience Southwestern elegance and scarlet sunsets over the San Antonio River.

San Diego: Sunny Forecast Ahead – For the Economy and the Weather

Sunny, temperate California weather is certainly one of San Diego’s attractions. But it offers so much more than its fabulous climate. The city’s growth statistics are currently dominated by telecommunications, software and biotech, with the median age of its young, technology-focused population being 32.

Great pedestrian corridors with street-level retail and a crime rate to drool over mean tourists, residents and workers alike will walk, not drive, while dropping big bucks into the local economy.

San Diego’s Many Fans

Forbes magazine recently ranked San Diego sixth in its list of the Top 10 Best Places in America to Do Business.

Why? The reasons seem unending and include:

  • Excellent public and private partnerships — Already a biotech center, with 10 percent of all publicly traded biotech companies and eight percent of all U.S. biotech firms in residence, the City of San Diego recently inked a deal with Novartis AG, the world’s largest biotech company. The City’s $1.25 million incentive package will result in:
    • $9.98 million for the City’s General Fund over 37 years
    • 400 new jobs with average annual pay of $88,000
    • $984,400 for the University City facilities benefit assessment fund
    • $184,000 in housing impact fees for the Housing Trust Fund
  • Affordability — The median price of a single-family, detached home in San Diego rose 6.1 percent from April to May 2000, to $276,650. According to the California Association of Realtors, that is a 20.7 percent increase from last May. But housing still takes less of a bite than in other areas of the state. In Santa Clara County, by comparison, the median price of a single-family, detached home hit a historic high of $488,760 in the first quarter of 2000.
  • Educational levels — Nearly one-third of San Diego’s talented “over 25” work force has at least a bachelor’s degree, making it the most educated population group in California.
  • Foreign trade — San Diego received World Trade Center status in 1994, and the volume of foreign trade in San Diego has increased by more than 17 percent annually since 1983, double the national rate.
  • Telecom Valley — Perhaps because of its 200,000+ miles of fiber-optic cable, more than any county in the nation, San Diego has become known as the “Telecom Valley.” Or perhaps it’s because companies like Qualcomm have helped it become the nation’s center for wireless industries.

Top 10 to 2025

According to the City of San Diego Web site, independent studies indicate San Diego makes the top 10 U.S. cities list for prospective job growth through 2025. Expect continued growth in high-tech, and increased environmental, transportation, recreational goods and international trade.So, if you’re looking for abundant job opportunities, near-perfect weather and a low crime rate, San Diego may be just the right place for you.

Seattle – Percolating on the Pacific

Home to Starbucks, a coffee guzzler’s haven, perhaps Seattle’s second quarter 2000 economic results should be called “The Big Gulp.” Greater Seattle can look forward to a percolating economy thanks, in part, to its two largest companies, Microsoft and Boeing. Swallowing a few dregs as though they were double lattés, these companies represent the region’s largest economic bases: Microsoft for high tech and Boeing for manufacturing.

Taking the Hit at Microsoft

According to a June 2000 report by the State’s Office of the Forecast Council, Microsoft’s employee stock option income, which counts as wages in the prepackaged software industry, took a $5-billion hit from Q4 of 1999 to Q1 of 2000.

That dismal news heaped on top of the software leader’s brewing anti-trust battles like a dollop of whipped cream. You’d think Microsoft would run out of steam. But the company just reported revenues of $22.96 billion — a 16% increase over last year — and a net income of $9.42 billion, not to mention:

  • The unveiling of Microsoft.NET, a new platform that professes to make computing and communications easier
  • The enormous potential for software demand in China
  • A new, three million-square-foot campus for 12,000 employees in Issaquah, approximately 15 miles east of Seattle

Greater Seattle ranks fifth in the nation for concentration of high-tech businesses, says the Economic Development Council of Seattle & King County, with more than 1,100 high-tech companies employing over 80,000 workers. Microsofties make up the largest portion, with a Puget Sound headcount hovering around 20,000.

Forecasters predict a gradual decline in software wages, however, with the average expected to grow only 1.6 percent in 2000, compared with 7.9 percent in 1999. Excluding software, Greater Seattle wages are expected to grow 4.6 percent this year, compared with 4.9 percent last year.

Services sector employment grew rapidly, to a 5.2 percent annual rate in Q1 2000, boosted by strong showings in both software and temporary help services. This sector is expected to continue outperforming the overall economy, although it will not entirely escape the state’s economic slowdown. The forecast is for services growth to average 3.3% per year through 2003.

Good News and Bad at Boeing

With approximately 77,100 employees as of July 2000, Boeing is the region’s largest employer and exporter, as well as the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer.

Boeing reported Q2 net earnings of $620 million, or $.71 per share, on revenues of $14.8 billion. And the company not only delivered 242 aircraft this year, it has received 328 orders year-to-date.

Employment hasn’t fared so well, however. A blend of Boeing layoffs and labor strikes, along with general downturns in the aerospace industry has left a bitter taste. Overall, the Council expects a reduction of 28,600 from the peak in Q2 1998 through the trough in Q2 2001, with a modest upturn by Q4 2001.

Overall Economic Climate

In a recent survey by the City of Seattle, businesses of all sizes gave the city generally high marks.

It was thumbs down, however, to availability of both affordable commercial space and housing for workers. And that’s a viable concern, according to Bill Walters, senior community development specialist with the Office of Economic Development. “Commercial vacancy rates are at all-time lows,” he says. “Anything under four percent is unheard of, and the current rate in downtown Seattle is under one percent.”

Many businesses have met this challenge by moving to nearby Kent, a former farming community, where office space is plentiful and the locale is picturesque.

Walters notes the median price for single-family homes is $240,000 — still significantly less than a home in the Bay Area, where this might be considered a down payment. Greater Seattle saw a housing boom in fiscal 1999 due to low mortgage rates, high incomes and unprecedented consumer confidence. The housing market will likely see a downturn over the next three years but should rise in 2003, as population growth picks up.

The Seattle Picture

Even when Seattle’s biggest employer takes a hit, the local economy barely feels it — thanks to Microsoft and its progeny.

The software industry is not the biggest employer in this hub on Puget Sound, but it’s the engine that keeps the economy humming, even when Boeing takes a dip.

The aerospace company — Seattle’s largest employer — has clipped its work force by the thousands in recent years because of the Asian financial crisis, among other things. But Microsoft and myriad companies spawned by its presence have kept tech job newspaper advertisements bountiful and low unemployment levels steady. State employment security officials reported a 4.6 percent seasonally adjusted jobless rate in April 2000.

There cannot be enough said about the role of software development. Hundreds of companies engaged in such areas as software development and e-commerce keep unemployment lines short. Experts say increases in computer and data processing, research and testing services have offset aircraft job losses, keeping the lattes flowing at Starbucks. Biotechnology, medical device and research, and testing companies have helped cultivate a diversified local economy that keeps the region strong, despite setbacks.

Experts are a little jittery about the potential fallout from the Microsoft antitrust case. Unlike Boeing, they suspect negative ramifications could plug the creation of spin-off companies and slow down the cash registers at Nordstrom. Total high-tech employment in the Seattle area reached 109,500 in 1999 — a nearly 50 percent increase from 1995, based on figures reported in the Seattle Times in April 2000.

High-tech workers tend to flock to Microsoft territory. Seattle and its home base, King County, account for more than two-thirds of the state’s high-tech work force. And the software industry is steadily gaining on the aerospace industry, the biggest player in town. In March 2000, the Washington Technology Council noted that the aircraft industry represents a smaller share of total high-tech employment — 39 percent from 59 percent — while the software industry encompasses 23 percent. Now, consider payroll figures compiled by public agencies. The 1998 payroll for the region’s 110,000 aircraft workers was $5.98 billion. The software industry, employing about one-fifth of the number of aircraft workers, consumed a $6.77 billion payroll.

Indeed, techies have plenty of options. Network engineers, development engineers, software developers, IT architecture engineers, C++ developers and more are all in demand. They can join the sandals and sweatpants crowd on the Eastside, or the Brooks Brothers/Donna Karan types dominating Rainier Tower downtown. Whether in wingtips or Birkenstocks, they’re in an enviable position, fetching an average annual salary (including stock options) of $282,540 in 1998 — a 43 percent increase from the 1997 average of $197,878. The American Electronics Association translated that amount to more down-to-earth terms, putting the average high-tech wage at $81,000 a year in 1997. The high figures reflect the Microsoft skew factor.

Beyond freight carriers and software, the Seattle region is growing tentacles in non-tech areas, like hospitality. Then, there are long-time players in the local economy, like the forestry industry. The top public employers reflect the region’s diversity.

Employer – 1997 Revenues – Type of Business

Boeing – $ 45.8B – Aerospace Manufacturer
Costco – $ 21.8B – Membership Warehouses
Microsoft – $ 11.3B – Software Developer
Weyerhaeuser – $ 11.2B – Pulp/Paper Products
Washington Mutual – $ 7.5B – Bank
Paccar – $ 6.7B – Heavy-duty Truck Manufacturer
Nordstrom – $ 4.8B – Apparel Retailer
Safeco – $ 4.7B – Insurance/Financial Services
Airborne Freight – $ 2.9B – Express Delivery
Quality Food Centers – $ 1.8B – Retail Grocery Chain

Pinellas County: Tampa’s Neighbor Predicts Job Growth and Need for Basic Skills

Pinellas County — located across the Bay from the larger, better-known city of Tampa — is known primarily for the tourist-haven cities of Clearwater and St. Petersburg, but it is also a driving economic force in the life of the central Florida area, touting:

  • 900,000 residents
  • A work force of 460,000, 27% of whom are in the 25 to 44 age range
  • A 10% increase in the number of professional jobs in the last decade
  • Over 35,000 businesses based within its borders
  • A cost of living 5% below the national average

Pinellas Predicts Small Business Job Growth

In a recent survey of over 900 businesses in Pinellas County, performed by Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED), the vast majority — 82% — reported employing 1-10 full-time employees. Among respondents, 89% reported employing 1-10 part-time employees.

These numbers may seem like small potatoes, but when you consider future plans for these same organizations for the next three years, the implications are significant:

Predicted Staff Additions – Percentage of Respondents

1-10 Full-time employees – 87%
11-50 Full-time employees – 13%
1-10 Part-time employees – 92%
11-50 Part-time employees – 8%

Even on a small scale, this translates into plenty of new job opportunities in all sectors of the economy. But what do these Pinellas County employers need in the way of skilled employees?

Traditional Business Skills Still the Most Important

According to the 900 survey respondents, the 10 most critical skills needed today are:

Type of Skill – Percentage Rating by Respondents

  1. Telephone etiquette – 76%
  2. Verbal communication – 76%
  3. Problem solving – 67%
  4. Interpersonal/teamwork – 61%
  5. Leadership – 60%
  6. Sales/marketing – 59%
  7. Accounting/bookkeeping – 56%
  8. Math – 56%
  9. Writing – 48%
  10. Word processing/typing – 47%

Other skills that Pinellas County employers consider necessary include:

Type of Skill – Percentage Rating by Respondents

Analytical/critical thinking – 42%
Mechanical/technical – 35%
Internet/e-commerce – 32%
Data processing – 28%
Spreadsheet – 28%
Database management – 26%
Computer programming – 25%
Desktop publishing – 23%
Bilingualability – 18%

Judging from these trends, in addition to basic business skills, businesses of all types and sizes are beginning to realize the necessity for employees with at least a baseline mastery of essential computer programs and IT concepts related to the management of data and information.

Looking Down the Road

When asked what skills will be necessary three years from now, the trends reverse themselves. Skills that employers identified as less critical today will be in much higher demand in the next three years. The top 10 skills that employers expect to need are:

Type of Skill – Percentage Rating by Respondents

  1. Bilingualability – 39%
  2. Internet/e-commerce – 31%
  3. Computer programming – 27%
  4. Database management – 23%
  5. Accounting/bookkeeping – 21%
  6. Desktop publishing – 21%
  7. Spreadsheet – 19%
  8. Data processing – 18%
  9. Mechanical/technical – 16%
  10. Sales/marketing – 16%

Other basic skills, like writing and math ability, fell to the bottom of the list, which would seem to indicate that employers count on having those skills readily available in the work force within three years.

So, if you’re in the Pinellas County work force — or if you plan on joining it soon — be sure to brush up on those basic business skills and be prepared to gain more computer-based training and experience to meet the future demand in this city by the Bay.

For more information on Pinellas County Economic Development and to download a copy of the full 2000 Business Assistance Survey for Pinellas County, please visit the PCED Web site at www.siliconbay.org.

Meeting Opportunity in Toronto

Call it Silicon Valley North. Or Hollywood North. Or simply call it what the earliest inhabitants of Lake Ontario’s shores did — Toronto: “place of meeting.”

Today, the name is more apropos than ever. Toronto thrives as an international commerce center and city of heady cultural convergence. Even the United Nations hailed it as the most multicultural city in the world.

The fifth largest city in North America, with a population of 2.4 million, Toronto is noted for its superior quality of life: Fortune magazine voted it top global city for business and family in 1996.

An Employee’s Market

Toronto represents Canada’s largest employment hub, with one-sixth of the country’s jobs. A world banking and finance leader, Toronto also supports a burgeoning variety of high-growth sectors, such as:

  • Software and hardware design
  • New media
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Telecommunications

The city’s economic vitals are strong. Toronto has generated 355,000 new jobs since 1996, a 15.8 percent increase that outpaced Canada’s 11.1 percent job creation rate. Unemployment reached a low: 5.3 percent as of June 2000, down from an average of 6.1 percent in 1999.

Toronto clearly supports an employee’s market. Shortages in health care and high tech are particularly acute. For example, the Information Technology Association of Canada estimates 20,000 unfilled IT jobs across Canada.

“New Economy” Growth

As home to Canada’s fastest growing high-tech market, Toronto boasts 3,100 high-tech companies employing 155,000, per statistics from the industry group, SMART Toronto. The city ranks fourth highest in the world for concentration of commercial software companies and also fosters a thriving hardware sector.

Professionals with expertise in software development, computer animation, Web applications, post-production and computer-generated imaging, and other specialized niches remain highly sought-after. Basking in exceptionally strong demand are telecommunications software designers and computer engineers, who enjoyed the highest employment growth of any profession across Canada during the 1990s.

Toronto claims 75 percent of Canada’s new media and multimedia firms, according to Toronto New Media Works. This $1 billion industry, composed of 4,000 mostly small multimedia and content creation companies, anticipates an explosive growth.

Bedrock Strengths

Business services remain one of Toronto’s best job generators, due to increased outsourcing of HR, accounting, advertising and marketing, and computer service functions.

Employment in finance, insurance and real estate grew by four percent in 1999, according to Statistics Canada. This sector employs more than 222,000 people, or around nine percent of Toronto’s labor market. The upsurge in demand for wealth management has created strong and expanding opportunities for financial planners and securities brokers. And real estate is rebounding after a slump in the early to mid-’90s.

The prognosis is good for Toronto’s health sector, which was up 9.1 percent in 1999. The city offers the largest concentration of biomedical and biotechnology jobs of any North American metro area. For those directly involved in patient care, the region’s dire need for nurses, radiation therapists, pharmacists and physicians promises rewarding opportunities.

Positions in high tech, health care, finance, banking — even movie making. Toronto has them all. So, bring your talent and ambition to Ontario’s prosperous “place of meeting” and find your True North.

Cosmopolitan Tulsa – A Thriving and Diversified City

Okay, so there was a 5.3 percent drop in mining jobs last year in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But these days, mining accounts for less than two percent of the 400,000 jobs in this booming metropolitan area of almost 800,000 residents. Almost every other sector of Tulsa’s job market shows a steady increase.

In fact, according to the Greater Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, Tulsa ranks eighth among the top cities in the Southwest for high-tech employment, and third nationwide for emerging businesses in high-tech transportation equipment, defense and energy industries.

Furthermore, the number of jobs in Metro Tulsa, which boasts an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent (BLS figure), may even rise by 12 percent in 2005.

A Host of Healthy Industries

While the last decade saw a decrease in mining jobs, the Chamber’s Economic Development Division noted an increase in the following types of positions:

Type of Position – Additional Number of Jobs

Executive, administrative and managerial – More than 13,000
Professional and technical – More than 16,400
Precision, craft and repair – Almost 10,000
Assembly and inspection – 5,300
Service – 12,500

“The economy has been very healthy in Tulsa,” says Michael Davidsson, manager of economic research for the Chamber. “We’ve had many positive announcements both from companies moving into the area and those already here.”

One example of the city’s health is the major expansion of Williams Communications, a leading developer of fiber-optic networking for voice, data and Internet services. Employing more than 5,000 in the area, Williams recently began building a high-rise in downtown Tulsa. The new center, set for completion in mid-2001, will create 4,000 new jobs.

Says Rusty Linker, Chamber director of new business development, “These will include jobs in IT, engineering, communications, technical support and computer programming.”

Linker also points to a thriving aeronautics industry, led by Sabre, Inc. and American Airlines, which has its maintenance division in Tulsa.

A list of several other major economic players in Greater Tulsa illustrates the range of industries, including:

  • Amoco
  • Hilti
  • Central SW
  • Ford Motor Co.
  • Kimberly Clark
  • Metro Life Insurance
  • State Farm
  • Albertson’s Navistar
  • Bok Financial Corporation
  • TV Guide

Located in northeastern Oklahoma, Tulsa is a leading health care provider, serving patients in a four-state region. And the city is home to two schools of medicine:

  • Oklahoma Osteopathic College of Medicine and Surgery
  • Tulsa Medical School

It also boasts three major universities:

  • Oklahoma State University – Tulsa
  • University of Tulsa
  • University of Oklahoma

If You’re Looking for the Average American City

“Tulsa is the most cosmopolitan area in Oklahoma,” says Davidsson, who emigrated from Iceland. “In fact, it’s the most typical city in the nation. Our demography is the closest to the average demography of the country.”

Besides having diverse cultures and industries, the cost of living index for Metro Tulsa lists the city at 93.5 (100 being the average). Salary Calculatorä (see our Tools page) matches a $100,000 salary in Chicago with a $52,060 salary in Tulsa, demonstrating just how far a dollar will go in Tulsa.

The low cost of housing is a key factor in the city’s affordability. Davidsson reports that a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors indicates 74 percent of the homes in Tulsa are affordable for someone with a median income. “This is a remarkable figure,” he says, “especially when you compare it with about 10 percent for a city like San Francisco.”

Tulsa’s healthy mix of high tech, engineering, finance, insurance, health care and transportation make this cosmopolitan, mid-sized city one of the most attractive labor markets in the country.

D.C. – A Capitol Place to Work

Washington, D.C. has long been notorious for two reasons — its oppressive summer humidity, and the excesses and escapades of its politicians. Today, if you can turn on your air conditioner and turn off your TV and radio, you can live a fairly normal life here, especially if you’re looking for work in the high-tech sector.

According to the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, there could be a staggering 20,000 vacancies in the high-tech sector in the D.C. area. Companies such as AOL, MCI WorldCom, Oracle and Nextel Communications have bought large tracts of land in Dulles, Virginia, along the airport corridor, taking advantage of available space in close proximity to the nation’s capital. They also avoid high office rents in D.C. neighborhoods, where office space currently averages $36.76 per square foot.

Help Wanted — Desperately

One drawback for firms in the area is the labor shortage, which is prevalent in all sectors. Over the past year, unemployment has hovered at around two percent, with the national average standing at about four percent. It is a rarity to see a D.C. area shop or restaurant without a “help wanted” sign in its window — a fair reflection of the labor market as a whole.

D.C. proper also has a scarcity of undeveloped land for construction of huge office headquarters. And a law stating that no building in the city can be higher than the Capitol building limits high-rise construction. An incredible boom in downtown office and hotel construction has occurred, as smaller high-tech firms like VarsityBooks.com and Magnet Interactive have assumed D.C. addresses.

Other major employers downtown include many trade-based organizations, as well as government, law and health sectors, and the three main universities — Howard, Georgetown and George Washington. Within the city boundaries alone, colleges and universities enroll nearly 80,000 students.

Employees have the chance to work in a culturally diverse city that offers internationally renowned museums and lively neighborhoods, such as Georgetown, Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle.

When All the Politicians Go Home

Residents say that since the MCI Center opened in 1996, nightlife in the city has blossomed. The Center hosts ice hockey, basketball, and numerous concerts and cultural events. Not surprisingly, many of the 20,000+ people who might attend such events seek places to eat and drink after the festivities. As a result, numerous restaurants, bars and nightclubs have emerged in the area. To deal with this increased activity, the metro rail system is experimenting with an extension of longer weekend running hours until 2:00 a.m. The convention center, under construction at Mount Vernon Square and slated to open in 2003, will help D.C. to remain an “evening city” — a selling point missing just a decade ago.

Taxing Traffic Troubles

The downside of working in D.C. can be the commute, especially if you’re coming in from Virginia over the notorious Wilson Bridge, or if at any point you must venture onto the Capital Beltway. A recent survey quoted by the Washington Post showed D.C. as being saddled with the nation’s second worst traffic congestion problem, surpassed only by Los Angeles.

Should you choose to avoid the commute by living within the city, rents and housing prices are well above the national average, and the high-priced property belt stretches far out into the suburbs. Within D.C. itself, though, this is not necessarily bad news. Prices have risen on the back of the economic boom, but new, first-time home buyer programs have also created more stable communities which, in turn, have fostered healthier local economies.

If only we could find a way to create politicians as stable as the D.C. economy …