90% of US 'innovation sector' growth centered in 5 cities

The vast majority of high-tech job growth in the U.S. took place in just five metro areas — all but one of them on the West Coast — between 2005 and 2017, according to a new report.

"The case for growth centers: How to spread tech innovation across America" report, from the Brookings Institution and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, describes how more than 90 percent of job growth in 13 of the nation's most advanced industries during that time period was concentrated in Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and San Jose, Calif.

With that highly concentrated growth, those five regions significantly increased their share of the country's total innovation employment: from 17.6 percent in 2005 to 22.8 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of metro areas saw innovation sector jobs decrease, presenting a "grave national problem," since the sector's "diffusion into new places would greatly benefit the nation's well-being," according to the report.

The solution to this challenge will depend upon the introduction of nation-scaled, place-based interventions; the report recommends the creation of eight to 10 federally funded "growth centers" in major cities far from existing tech hubs.

"Many conventional economists will argue that any push to promote regional equity will come at the expense of efficiency. However, the negative externalities of the current imbalances and the positive ones of catalyzing new growth in new places each suggest that intervention can benefit the nation's total welfare and global competitiveness," the report's authors wrote, concluding, "America should launch this experiment."

More articles on innovation:
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How CIO Myra Davis defined a culture of innovation at Texas Children's Hospital
How Mount Sinai is transforming innovation

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