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Economists say LA's high-tech sector rivals Silicon Valley in providing jobs



A demo at Oblong Industries, which employs 75 people in downtown LA's Arts District.  Oblong makes collaborative computer interfaces. Its CEO, John Underkoffler designed the computer interfaces seen in the movie
A demo at Oblong Industries, which employs 75 people in downtown LA's Arts District. Oblong makes collaborative computer interfaces. Its CEO, John Underkoffler designed the computer interfaces seen in the movie "Minority Report".
Brian Watt/KPCC

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A report released Monday says Los Angeles County now has more high-tech sector jobs than other well-known tech centers, including Santa Clara County (the heart of Silicon Valley), the Boston-Cambridge area, and the five boroughs of New York City. 

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) Institute for Applied Economics authored the report, with sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase.  It says that in 2013, the high-tech sector employed 368, 580 people in Los Angeles County.  Another 104,680 people were performing high-tech duties for companies outside the high-tech sector.

The jobs come from a wide range of industries, including aerospace, bio-pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consulting and software publishing.  "We (Los Angeles County) have a whole range of industries that are associated with high-tech," said LAEDC Vice President Christine Cooper, the study's lead author  "So it's not surprising to see that this a very large sector in our economy," Cooper told KPCC.  

The study also says high-tech jobs pay better - on average, almost 70 percent higher than wages in other industries.  While the sector accounts for 9 percent of all employment in L.A. County, it represents 17 percent of all payroll wages. 

"Los Angeles is not only the most creative spot on the face of the earth - we are the tech leaders in this country," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Los Angeles' tech industry is now as critical to our economy as manufacturing and entertainment, and we are outperforming our peers." 

Garcetti heralded the LAEDC's report while kicking off Los Angeles Innovation Week - six days of panel discussions, expos, hack-a-thons, mixers and other events designed to highlight the County's innovation scene.  He spoke to a small group at the offices of Oblong Industries in downtown L.A.'s Arts District.  Oblong makes collaborative computer interfaces and its history straddles entertainment and technology.  Its CEO John Underkoffler designed the computer interfaces in the film "Minority Report."

The LAEDC's Christine Cooper said the high-tech sector overlaps with the manufacturing, entertainment and other sectors.

"We have to be careful that we are facilitating all sectors that are providing well-paying jobs," Cooper said.