Last week Mass Tech Leadership Council released our annual State of the MA Tech Economy report. Authored by our partners at Lightcast, this report offers a deep dive into the profound influence of the tech sector and its employment landscape on the state of Massachusetts.
The results are mixed. Massachusetts remains an extraordinarily strong hub for tech and innovation, constituting a remarkable 14% of the total workforce and contributing a substantial 17% to the state’s GDP. Contrary to apprehensions about remote and hybrid work fostering disconnection, our research reveals that such flexibility fosters stronger employee retention rates.
Yet, amid these successes, there are challenges. A disconcerting trend emerges as younger tech talents opt to relocate away from the state, raising questions about the enduring effects on community strength and financial contributions. But perhaps most concerning is the reversal in our strides toward diversity in the tech workforce. Despite an uptick in tech job numbers, the decline in non-white tech workers paints a sobering picture.
The question arises: does it truly matter if individuals are departing the region when companies can now recruit from anywhere? The answer is complicated. While the freedom to hire beyond regional borders expands the talent pool, the exodus of tech roles may precipitate irrevocable economic ramifications. As these roles migrate elsewhere, so too does their discretionary spending, impacting local businesses and community initiatives. This impact is exacerbated when departing individuals occupy influential positions within the C-suite, further diminishing their local footprint.
What has caused this setback in our progress toward diversity in tech? The answer likely lies in a number of factors, including outmigration, the allure of hiring beyond state lines, and the unfortunate aftermath of layoffs and programmatic cuts. However, the magnitude of this regression suggests a potential erosion of intentional efforts in hiring and retention, such as those championed through DEI initiatives and ERGs. In 2020, the Tech Compact for Social Justice, spearheaded by MTLC with the support of industry giants like PTC and Akamai, galvanized over 100 companies to redouble their commitments to diversity and inclusion. Yet, in the wake of the pandemic, many companies were compelled to recalibrate.
Optimistically, as the economic landscape rebounds, a new wave of tech companies are being launched. My hope is that these companies, as well as our established enterprises, turn to the invaluable programs championed by organizations like Resilient Coders, Hack.Diversity, Per Scholas, the Urban League, and our other MassTechTalent partners as they scale and hire.
What implications does this hold for the Massachusetts tech sector? Undoubtedly, there is work to be done. Nevertheless, amidst the challenges, tech jobs continue to grow year after year and Massachusetts remains a leader among its peers. As the leader of a regionally-based industry organization, I am focused on ensuring our sector remains vigilant in addressing these challenges, recognizing them as fundamental threats to our capacity to attract, retain, and nurture top-tier companies and talents. The density of our community fosters connections, ignites innovation, and incubates enterprises. It beckons investment and cultivates vibrant communities.
The MTLC team and members of our Board of Trustees believe in this state and will work together with our members and partners to continue to make Massachusetts the best place to live, work, and grow a tech company.