High-tech companies are rapidly adding jobs and paying workers more than other industries in metropolitan areas stretching from the Research Triangle and Atlanta to New York to Seattle, according to a new study looking at the nation’s top "cybercities."

In a report being released Tuesday, the American Electronics Association found 51 of the top 60 U.S. cybercities – those with the most technology workers – added high-tech jobs in 2006. The report also found the average technology industry wage was 87 percent higher than the average private sector salary.

In Raleigh-Durham, employers added 3,900 workers in 2006, lifting the Triangle region’s tech sector to 70,600 jobs. Based on federal statistics, Raleigh reported 37,100 jobs and Durham 33,500.

Durham ranked fourth among the 60 cities surveyed in terms of tech job concentration, 16 percent of its work force. Most of RTP is located in Durham county. Raleigh ranked 12th in tech work force concentration at 9.5 percent.

In Atlanta, meanwhile, companies increased headcount by 2,300 in 2006 for a total of 126,700. That’s the first year Atlanta added tech jobs since the technology “bubble” burst in 2001. Atlanta ranked 10th among the metros in number of jobs, with tech workers making up 6.4 percent of it’s work force.

Members of the American Electronics Association include Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Intel Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Although the AeA report is based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2006 – the most recent year available – the industry continues to experience robust growth while much of the rest of the economy slows, said Christopher Hansen, president and chief executive of the trade group.

"The tech sector is not laying people off," Hansen said. "If anything, the industry is having trouble getting enough people with the right credentials."

Although the trade group publishes an annual Cyberstates report, "Cybercities 2008" is the first examination of the industry’s health in the nation’s biggest cities since 2000, before the high-tech bubble burst.

Recent data show the tech sector is "climbing back to ‘pre-bubble-bursting’ levels of employment and activity," Hansen said. The bubble of the late 1990s was the product of "an exuberance of investment" in companies that often lacked solid fundamentals, but the current growth is being driven by a more stable industry that has become integrated into the broader economy, he added.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Seattle led the nation in technology job growth in 2006, adding 7,800 positions.
  • The New York metropolitan area had the most high-tech employees in 2006 with 316,500; followed by San Jose, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley, with 225,300 tech workers and Boston with 191,700.
  • Silicon Valley had the nation’s highest concentration of high-tech workers with 286 industry employees for every 1,000 private sector workers.
  • The Washington, D.C., region led the nation in technology job growth between 2001 and 2006, adding 7,500 workers.

Not all cities added jobs in 2006, however, with Detroit and Miami-Fort Lauderdale in Florida among those that shed high-tech workers. What’s more, hubs including Seattle and Silicon Valley still don’t have as many tech workers as they did before the bubble burst.

The AeA report stresses that continued tech-sector growth is not guaranteed in today’s global economy. To remain competitive, U.S. cities need to improve the quality of elementary and high school education – particularly in math and science – support research universities and invest in broadband networks and other critical infrastructure.

AeA argues that federal policymakers also need to invest more in research and development, while allowing more skilled foreign workers into the U.S. and promoting open trade policies.