New York City's Tech Boom: Bad News, Good News

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New York City has the fastest growing tech industry in the nation; the number of people working in the information technology sector went up almost 29 percent in the past 5 years, according to the Center for an Urban Future.  

But, as I discussed briefly with Brian Lehrer on WNYC this past Friday, unemployment in NYC is still about 10 percent, higher than the national average. Never mind all the Meet Ups and Brooklyn buzz, regular New Yorkers aren't benefiting from the city's tech boom...yet.

The Bad News:

  • Lots of growing tech companies are importing their new hires — either from out of town or from other NYC industries (like fashion or finance).  The Center for an Urban Future's Jonathan Bowles gives Tumblr as an example; half of the company's employee moved to New York for the job, he told the Huffington Post.
  • Companies are going to have to keep recruiting non-New Yorkers because demand is bigger than the supply.
  • Um, basically the tech boom is really great mostly for white guys who already have engineering degrees.

The Good News (and yes, there is some):

  • Jobs in the tech sector are projected to grow 16 percent over the next eight years, compared to 12.8 percent for the whole private sector, according to Engine Advocacy, which studies government tech policies.
  • There are lots of educational programs ramping up that combine computing degrees with professional mentorship in new ways. They include the new Cornell NYC Tech campus (applications due Oct. 1; the first classes will be held at Google’s NYC officers), NYU's Urban Science and Progress in Downtown Brooklyn, and Columbia's Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering.  
  • And at the K-12 level, there are also places like the new Academy for Software Engineering, a public high school aimed at making computer science a priority.

We profiled AFSE in our first New Tech City segment on WNYC and talked to a very inspiring teacher who made me wish I could take math and computer science all over again.

Leigh Ann DeLyser is the computer science curriculum consultant for AFSE. The public high school near Union Square aims to produce the next generation of software engineers, web developers and internet entrepreneurs. She's also the co-author of the report Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age.

Listen to the whole interview here (and follow @NewTechCity and @Manoushz on Twitter).